In recent years, many high-profile American stars have crossed the pond to become owners of United Kingdom-based soccer clubs. Tom Brady has recently joined the ranks and, like many of his compatriots, has big ambitions for his new venture.
The former New England Patriots and Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback became a minority owner of Birmingham City in August 2023 and also holds the role of advisory board chair. Birmingham has also subsequently appointed Wayne Rooney as manager, as the club seeks to return to the Premier League for the first time since 2011.
Patience will be required
The current odds suggest that promotion is unlikely this season. As it stands in the Premier League betting markets, Birmingham is priced at odds of +3300 to get the promotion and staked at a +37,500 chance to win the Championship.
To give some indication as to the prospects of a promoted team winning the Premier League, the likes of Burnley and Luton Town, who went up this year, are currently priced in the +50,000 range.
But, in bringing Brady and Rooney on board at St Andrew’s, Birmingham has certainly instilled what it wants in terms of a winning mentality. As a seven-time Super Bowl champion, Brady knows what it takes to win. Rooney’s appointment as manager to replace John Eustace was also an indication of the club’s desire to foster a culture of ambition.
Rooney won the Premier League five times as a player at Manchester United, as well as the Champions League and several other trophies. He’s also United’s all-time leading goalscorer and held the same rank for England until recently being overtaken by Harry Kane.
His coaching career has yet to reach anywhere near the same heights, but it’s still early days after spells in charge at Derby County and DC United. At Derby, he kept the club in the Championship after taking over and a mammoth points deduction was the reason for the team’s relegation at the end of his first full season.
Wrexham: an example to follow
He may also have failed to take DC United into the playoffs and endured a slow start to his time as Birmingham manager, but the example of Wrexham, another club with high-profile American owners, demonstrates the importance of being patient and supporting your manager.
— Tom Brady (@TomBrady) August 12, 2023
After deciding to appoint Phil Parkinson as manager, Wrexham co-owners Ryan Reynolds and Rob McElhenney saw him make a slow start in his first few months – there were many fans calling for him to be sacked. The owners, though, were rewarded for their patience when, after losing in the playoffs in his first full season, Parkinson led the club back into the Football League for the first time since 2008 at the end of his second year.
A similar story has the potential to develop at Birmingham. The club has shown previously that it can compete at the highest level, finishing in ninth position in 2010 before also winning the League Cup by beating Arsenal in the final a year later, a couple of months before relegation.
Since then, it has been a tumultuous period for Birmingham, but given the size of the club, its location, and the arrival of owners and a manager who can excite the fan base, a return to the Premier League may no longer feel so far away.