Date:Wednesday February 15 2006
David Sullivan has publicly backed Steve Bruce over his handling of Nicky Butt after his walkout, and insists the midfielder still has an 'important part to play' in the battle to avoid relegation.
Butt is widely believed to have been fined two weeks wages for his misdemeanour - around £80,000 - after apologising, and the matter has been declared 'closed' by the club.
Now Sullivan has, as is customary in such circumstances, spoken to the Birmingham Mail about his feelings over the matter:
'The next month or so for us is absolutely critical and it is vital that we all stick together,' said co-owner Sullivan.
'And I am sure that Nicky Butt will have an important part to play in that time and in games afterwards.
'What's gone on, we all have to put behind us. He made a decision and has subsequently apologised for what he did.
'The manager has got to make decisions also and he lives or dies by them. And he has got to be allowed to make those decisions.
'If Nicky Butt is selected for our next game, in the FA Cup at Stoke City, then I'm sure he will give his best endeavour.
'I think what happened was partly down to a misunderstanding.
'He was peeved he was not in the team, not involved, but he could have been on the bench.
'What he thought was not quite the same as the situation was.'
However, Sullivan has also declared that the matter should now be put to rest as Blues battle to avoid relegation, with the club currently finding themselves six points adrift of safety.
'I realised we were in trouble before anyone,' he said.
'Way back in September and October I expressed my concerns and people labelled me some sort of prophet of doom.
'I spoke my mind, judging by what I saw. And there is no doubt that we are in a mess and, realistically, face one hell of a battle to survive.'
'Also, we are not beyond hope.
'We are only just odds-on to be relegated but a year or so ago, on the morning of the match at West Brom, they were 25-1 to go down.
'They escaped and our situation at the moment is not as bad as theirs was. We are a long way from being sunk.
'Everyone must look at what they are doing and how they can improve,' he said.
'Everyone must get their thinking caps on and ask themselves what can they do to make things better for the club?
'That goes right down from me, the board, to the manager, players and fans. We are in serious trouble and all need to rally round.'
'At West Ham, I thought we didn't play as we were capable of. Some could have done better, and our goalscoring record away from home is appalling, only West Brom have scored fewer times - even Sunderland have got more.
'That's something we have also got to look at, what we are doing and how we can improve.
'Thankfully, we should have some of our injured players back this weekend, and more for when we play Sunderland.
'And we need these players back. They made a difference to the team and life the morale of the others as well.
'We also have Heskey and Johnson free from suspension and they should help.'
Although Sullivan has a habit of speaking to the local papers on a variety of Blues-related topics regularly, often sparking controversy in the process, the co-owner's recent comments are fully correct.
Whilst Nicky Butt's actions were undoubtedly wrong, he has since apologised, has been fined a considerable amount of money, and will now hope to win his way back into the hearts of the Blues faithful by putting in good performances when called upon.
It is important that, rather than bickering at individual mistakes or decisions, the supporters and staff of Birmingham City Football Club all pull together and make a monumental effort to pull off the 'great escape'.
We will all have our opinions on individual players, the coaching and management staff and the board, but these must now be put aside. The team now have three must-win games coming up against Sunderland, Middlesbrough and West Brom. Come the end of the season, players (and possibly staff) will come and go - but we are not supporters of Nicky Butt or Steve Bruce, we are supporters of Birmingham City Football Club.
By all means, have opinions on the club. But come the ninety minutes of football, please put these to one side and unite in supporting the team to victory. No-one wants to see the team return to the Championship, and placing your full backing behind the team at the stadium will go some way to avoiding this scenario.
As the famous anthem goes: 'Keep Right On'.
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