Birmingham City

 
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2009/10 saw the return to the EPL of Birmingham City. And now the fight is on to see whether they can become a perennial fixture in the world’s richest league. Live Premier League football from their St Andrew’s ground promises to be a must-see this year and you can catch all the action from England’s second city right here courtesy of Live Sports Network – your direct link to live online football.

 
Club History
 

Birmingham City has a long history in English football dating back to the 1870’s. Through their change of name from Small Heath in 1905 and their move to St Andrews’ – their home ever since - in 1906, the Blues have featured regularly in the business end of competitions. Their only major trophy to date came in 1963 when they lifted the League Cup, defeating city rivals Aston Villa 3-1 on aggregate in the two-legged final. They also represented their country well in the Inter-Cities Fairs Cup, reaching the final in 1960, losing to Barcelona. Indeed, the Blues were the first English team to take part in European competition when they represented England’s second city in the 1956 Fairs Cup.

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The fifties were the club’s most successful with the club finishing sixth in the first division, their highest-ever position, as well as reaching the FA Cup Final, losing to Manchester City.

 

Birmingham were also an established top-flight side in the 1970s. They were partly inspired by striker Bob Latchford, who attracted a then British record transfer fee of £350,000 when he was sold to Everton in 1974. And their biggest inspiration was the legendary Trevor Francis, the Blues’ mainstay throughout the decade, who attracted a British record transfer fee when he was sold to Nottingham Forest in 1979, famously becoming English football’s first £1million player in the process.

 

Subsequent years were ones of worry both on and off the pitch, until the club were bought from near financial oblivion by former pornographer David Sullivan and “adult entertainment” mogul David Gold.

 

After early relegation to English football’s third-tier, Birmingham’s fortunes improved – including five decent years under the returning legend Trevor Francis’s management.

 

Although promotion and relegation were regular features of Birmingham City life in the last decade, by the time Sullivan and Gold sold to Hong Kong businessman Carson Yeung in 2009, the Blues were on a firm enough footing to begin to establish themselves in the EPL. It remains to be seen whether they will do so over the next few years.

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Season 2010/11

 

Birmingham surprised most observers by finishing ninth in the EPL last season. Under manager Alex McLeish they established themselves as a difficult team to beat, especially at home. And they avoided the potential destabilising pitfalls associated with the protracted transfer of ownership from the Davids, Sullivan and Gold to Hong Kong businessman Carson Yeung, who took control in the early part of the season.

 

Although Yeung’s outlandish early spending promises were quickly revealed as takeover-related hype, McLeish received considerable backing from the board in the summer transfer window.

 

Last season’s success was helped in no small measure the outstanding goalkeeping displays of Joe Hart, who was on-loan from big-spending Manchester City and has since established himself there and in the England international set-up. Ben Foster, the former England squad regular, was signed as replacement. And other players brought in included Serbian striker Nikola Zigic – a long-term Blues target – Chilean World Cup star Jean Beausejour and Belarus international and former Arsenal regular Alexander Hleb on-loan from Catalan giants Barcelona.

 

These new signings will join key players from last season such as Lee Bowyer, James McFadden and highly-respected centre-back duo Roger Johnson and Scott Dann.

 

McLeish himself signed a new long-term deal to remain as manager and Birmingham look well set to become an established force in the EPL, challenging for European places and shaking off their reputation as a yo-yo club after two relegations and two promotions in recent years.

 

You can see if the Blues successfully avoid the “second season syndrome” that has done for impressive EPL debutants in the past, here with us live online from St Andrews via Live Sports Network. Be sure to watch Birmingham City live online at free-football.tv.

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Tags: EPL, Birmingham City, Live Premier League, Birmingham, FA Cup Final, Bob Latchford, Trevor Francis, David Gold, Carson Yeung, Alex McLeish, Joe Hart, Ben Foster, Nikola Zigic, Jean Beausejour, Alexander Hleb, Lee Bowyer, James McFadden, Roger Johnson, Scott Dann, Birmingham City live

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