As popular a sport like football has become, there are a handful of football club owners who actually are emotionally invested in their team, and Birmingham City seem to have hit the jackpot with their new ownership.
American hedge fund chief Tom Wagner is the man responsible for the recent transfer of ownership of Birmingham City FC.
After acquiring a hefty stake in the club, he talked about his admiration of the game in an interview saying: “This isn’t a deployment of capital because we happen to like the sport- it’s because we see a significant opportunity.”
But Mr. Wagner is no ordinary club owner. While owners and higher club authorities like to place themselves in the director’s box to view the match luxuriously, Wagner identifies himself as the people’s man.
In Birmingham City’s away match against Preston, a fan recorded a video of the scenes at the Deepdale Stadium after Jay Stansfield put Birmingham 1-0 up on the night.
But it wasn’t just a goal celebration video as a few rows down, it was none other than an adrenaline-filled Tom Wagner ecstatically enjoying his team take the lead and hug the fans.
In an era where club owners don’t even bother to attend their team’s home games, Wagner showed up in the away end sitting among the club’s supporters rooting for his team.
But it is not just the attendance of the owner which has won over the fans. Wagner even decided to buy some drinks at the bar for the Birmingham supporters as a token of their continued support to the team.
From clicking pictures with a large number of attendees at the game to buying them beers for their entertainment, Tom Wagner has taken no time in winning the hearts of the locals.
Even though his team ended up losing the game 2-1 at full-time, he stayed till the very end while the fans took something positive from the match knowing that they now have an owner who is as passionate about their club as they are.
Rival fans certainly did not seem happy with Birmingham supporters spreading love for their club owner all over social media, claiming that it was a mere publicity stunt.
They drew comparisons to Mike Ashley, the former owner of Newcastle United, who in a similar fashion mingled with the fans and rocked up to St. James Park in a Newcastle Jersey, but time showed that he never cared about his club at all.
Birmingham fans did not take any heed to the criticisms as they haven’t experienced the best of times, with their deep affection for the club dwindling recently as they finished 20th and 17th in the Championship for the past two successive seasons.
But after the departure of Jude Bellingham, they have found their true love for the club return as they now sit eighth in the league and already are grateful to their club owner for making big differences both on and off the pitch.