The history of Birmingham City Football Club

 1905/06 Blues First Team

Like so many football clubs that started around the late 19th century, Birmingham City's origins lie in the church. 

Founded over 140 years ago in 1875, the Club has been based at its present home of St. Andrew’s Stadium in the Small Heath district of Birmingham since 1906.

Popularly known as the 'Blues', the Club is currently ranked as the 28th most successful in the history of English football, based on major trophies won. And in terms of seasons in the top division of English football, Birmingham City rank 21st, with 57 year’s participation in the top-tier.

Cup-wise the Club’s most recent success was back in 2011, when under the management of former boss Alex McLeish, Blues overcame all the odds to beat Arsenal, one of Europe's top clubs, to win the League Cup at the Wembley national stadium in London in front of a sell-out crowd.

That victory was the second time that Blues had won the trophy, following on from a win over bitter city rivals Aston Villa back in 1963. The Club has also twice come close to winning the other premier English cup competition - the FA Cup - after finishing runners-up in the 1931 and 1956 finals against West Bromwich Albion and Manchester City respectively.

Domestically Blues have also achieved plenty of success in competitions aimed at lower league clubs. Tranmere Rovers were beaten 3-2 in the exhilarating Leyland Daf Cup final of 1991 and, in 1995, a single ‘golden goal’ saw off Carlisle United in extra-time in the same competition, then sponsored by Auto Windscreens. Blues took a following of over 50,000 fanatical supporters to both finals giving a real indication of the strength of support for the team in the Second City.

In league competition, Blues have spent the majority of their history jumping between the top two divisions. In 1986 Blues dropped out of the top flight and endured a long 16-year wait to return. The 1992/93 season proved to be one of great significance for Birmingham City as the Club went into receivership and was saved by the arrival of businessmen David Sullivan and David and Ralph Gold. The strategy of the new Board focused upon enhanced investment to achieve the ultimate goal of promotion to the Premier League. Millions of pounds were pumped into the redevelopment of the ground, making St. Andrew’s a 30,000 all-seater stadium.

Former player and ex-Manchester United playing legend Steve Bruce returned to take over as first team manager in December 2001. Under Bruce’s helm, the Club achieved Premier League status within six months after a play-off final victory against Norwich in front of 70,000-plus supporters at the Millennium Stadium. Blues continued to progress in the top flight with 13th, tenth and 12th placed finishes in their first three seasons. But unfortunately the fourth season ended in a major disappointment as the Club slipped back into the second-tier of English football after a campaign decimated by injury. Bruce remained in charge and the Club bounced back at the first attempt by finishing second in the Championship in 2006/07. Unfortunately, it proved to be only a brief flirtation with the Premier League as the team struggled to come to terms with the top division on their return.

A change of manager saw former Scotland national manager Alex McLeish take over at the helm in December 2007 and, despite some impressive results at home, poor away form proved costly and Blues again dropped into the second echelon. The yo-yoing continued as McLeish led Blues back into the big time again at the end of the 2008/09 season and the Club prepared for another shot at the Premier League with the addition of several new faces.

The 2009/10 campaign was one to remember as the side ended the season ninth in the Barclays Premier League – the Club’s highest finish for over half a century – and, in October 2009, Birmingham International Holdings Limited, which at that time was controlled by Carson Yeung, completed their takeover of the club.

The 2010/11 campaign was a majorly significant one for everyone connected with Birmingham City as the Club qualified for the UEFA Europa League with their Carling Cup victory over the Gunners. However, just three months after that cup final triumph, the Blues rollercoaster took another dip suffering relegation on the final day of the season.

The summer of 2011 saw the departure of McLeish along with the vast majority of the cup-winning squad. Under the helm of Chris Hughton, a new-look Blues side embarked on an exciting European campaign – 50 years on from the Club’s pioneering exploits in the Inter Cities Fairs Cup of the late 1950s and early 60s when Birmingham reached the final twice. But despite winning three of their six group games, Blues failed to reach the knockout stages on goal difference but could hold their heads up high.

Hughton’s charges finished fourth in the npower Championship and went out in the play-offs. The manager departed for pastures news that summer and Lee Clark took over at the helm ahead of the 2012/13 campaign. The team initially struggled but got into their stride during the second half of the season to finish a respectable 12th. Clark’s second term in charge saw the Blues boss field more than 40 first team players during the course of the season, as the team struggled for consistency due to injuries and the return of several loanees to their parent club midway through the campaign. Blues’ Championship status was looking in serious jeopardy on the final day with the side needing a point at Bolton to survive and trailing by two goals with only 15 minutes remaining. However, an incredible late comeback capped by Paul Caddis’ injury-time header saw the team pull off a great escape.

After a disappointing start to the 2014/15 campaign, Clark was replaced at the helm in November 2014 by Gary Rowett and the former Blues player has overseen a remarkable turnaround in the team’s fortunes, rising from 23rd to 10th in the Championship table by the end of the 2014/15 season.

That progress was maintained last year with Rowett’s side pushing for a play-off spot for much of the season, before eventually finishing in 10th place.

Following further investment in the playing staff during the summer 2016 transfer window by TTAL, Blues made a positive start to the 2016/17 campaign before eventually finishing the season in 19th place. It was a season of great change with several new faces at the helm, Rowett was replaced by Gianfranco Zola in December, who in turn was succeeded by Harry Redknapp in April.

Redknapp began the 2017/18 season as first team manager, but after a run of defeats he was relieved of his duties on 16 September 2017.

On the same day, Head Professional Development Coach Lee Carsley was appointed as first team caretaker manager.

After searching hard for a successor to Redknapp, the Club appointed Steve Cotterill as first team manager on 29 September 2017.

Cotterill had formed part of Redknapp's backroom staff towards the end of the 2016/17 season.

Cotterill started off his managerial reign with a comfortable win over Cardiff City on 13 October 2017.

Cotterill remained in charge of the first team for five months - but after a run of defeats - the Club made the decision to relieve him of his managerial duties on 3 March 2018.

On 4 March 2018, the Club appointed Garry Monk as Manager. Monk was manager until 18 June 2019 before he was relieved of his duties and his former assistant Pep Clotet took over as Caretaker Head Coach. That role was made permanent on 4 December 2019, before Clotet left Blues on 8 July 2020.

On 31 July 2020, former Real Madrdid defender Aitor Karanka was appointed as the Club's Head Coach on a three-year deal.