Football Trade Directory

Birmingham City Chairman Tom Wagner writes to Rishi Sunak pleading case for HS2

Birmingham City's Chairman Tom Wagner has written to the Prime Minister Rishi Sunak raising highlighting the importance of the HS2 rail link to the club and city of Birmingham.

Recent media reports have suggested that the Prime Minister is considering scrapping the second stage of the project, which is supposed to link London with the North, through Birmingham, with a high speed rail network.

In an open letter published on the club's website, Wagner said:

"I am writing to express my concern over the recent media reports suggesting your government may be considering scrapping the second stage of HS2.

Since the HS2 project was given the go-ahead in 2012, there have been challenges. However, for more than a decade, consecutive Conservative governments and Prime Ministers have emphasized their commitment to delivering HS2. These commitments have led to significant private sector investment decisions.

When evaluating any investment project, it is crucial to ensure that the value created exceeds the costs involved in its delivery. The economic and social benefits of HS2 have been widely discussed and broadly supported. I won't delve into them again here. Instead, I would like to draw attention to a benefit that has received less focus - continued trust and confidence in the UK government which supports foreign direct investment. The expectation is that the government will honour its commitment to deliver on publicly stated long term plans. Any deviation could result in a loss of investor trust and this would have a considerable negative impact on the UK. The ambitious HS2 project falls into this category.

One of the affiliates of Knighthead Capital Management LLC ("Knighthead") recently invested in Birmingham City Football Club. The decision to invest in Birmingham was driven by a number of key factors, including:

  • The Club's history, heritage, and the positive role that it plays in the community
  • The city's dynamic, youthful, and diverse population
  • Birmingham's long term development vision
  • And the city's location, at the heart of the country, and the exciting plans to improve connectivity with the rest of the UK through projects including HS2

Knighthead's goal is to make Birmingham City, and by extension Birmingham, a beacon for excellence that is recognised worldwide. This means investing in world class facilities and infrastructure. Making the Club, and Birmingham, a destination of choice for the best talent on and off the pitch. And a location that people will want to visit. Through the power of not just football but also world class sport, media and entertainment events we will drive significant investment into the city, creating new jobs and new opportunities.

The influence of a football club on the global stage should not be underestimated. For instance, during a 10-day period in August, coinciding with the announcement of seven-time Super Bowl champion and entrepreneur Tom Brady's minority ownership in the club, Birmingham City became the most talked-about football team in the world, generating over 17 billion positive media impressions. This is just the beginning of our journey.

The leadership team of the Club, led by Garry Cook, our Birmingham born CEO, are already collaborating with political and business leaders in the West Midlands to enhance Birmingham's profile and attract significant investment into some of the country's most underserved communities.

HS2 has the potential to transform the West Midlands and other cities and regions connected by the 'Y' network. Its completion will bring rewards to the entire country. By staying the course and demonstrating a commitment to this project, the UK government will send a powerful message to the investment community, ultimately benefiting the long-term prospects of the UK as a whole.

Knighthead believes that Birmingham is on the rise again and is willing to play a role in making it happen for the benefit of everyone who lives and works in the city, today and in the future.

I would be delighted to meet and share our plans for Birmingham and Birmingham City Football Club. I eagerly await your response and the opportunity to discuss this matter further.

Thank you for your attention to this important issue.
Yours sincerely,
Tom Wagner

Managing Member - Knighthead Capital Management, LLC Chairman - Birmingham City Football Club"


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