Blues owners 'knew they were going to sack John Eustace last month'

Birmingham’s American owners ‘knew they were going to sack John Eustace last month’… but had to wait to appoint Wayne Rooney as they did NOT want to pay DC United compensation due to tight FFP restrictions

  • John Eustace was sacked on Monday with Birmingham sixth on the table
  • Wayne Rooney is set to take over at St Andrews later this week 
  • Listen to the latest episode of Mail Sport’s podcast ‘It’s All Kicking Off!’ 

Birmingham City bosses reportedly knew they were going to replace John Eustace with Wayne Rooney last month, but Financial FairPlay (FFP) restrictions meant they had to wait weeks before pulling the trigger.

The Blues sacked Eustace on Monday and Rooney, who left his job at DC United in the MLS over the weekend, is expected to be formally appointed this week.

The decision to part ways with the 43-year-old raised eyebrows, particularly as it came just days after a 3-1 derby win over West Bromwich Albion on Friday left Birmingham sixth in the Championship after 11 games.

According to The Sun, however, the Blues hierarchy had planned to replace Eustace with Rooney for weeks.

Tight FFP restrictions, however, meant the club did not want to pay out compensation to DC United and had to wait until Rooney’s contract with the MLS club came to an end after 15 months. 

Birmingham sacked John Eustace on Monday with the club sixth in the Championship 

Wayne Rooney is expected to be officially appointed in charge this week after parting ways with DC United at the weekend 

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The former Everton and Manchester United star left his post in Washington on Sunday, once DC United failed to qualify for the MLS Cup play-offs, leaving free to take over at St Andrews.

Speaking in September, Rooney had expressed frustration at a lack of progress with contract discussions.

He told the Washington Post: ‘I am slightly disappointed and frustrated there has been no contact for two months.

‘We asked about a new deal. We can sit down and talk about it. We haven’t heard back.

‘Either way, I can take whatever the situation is. I was hoping we would have, either way, at least spoken about it. That hasn’t been the case.’

Tom Wagner’s Knighthead Group officially took control of the club in July and subsequently unveiled former NFL star Tom Brady as one of their minority stakeholders.

The seven-time Super Bowl winner attended the home against Leeds in August. 

Mail Sport reported at the beginning of September that Rooney had emerged as a possible target for Birmingham in the event Eustace left the club.

Eustace kept Birmingham up last season and made a solid start this term, but Blues CEO Garry Cook claimed his goals and ambitions did not align with the club’s 

NFL legend Tom Brady (left) is one of Birmingham’s minority owners after the club was taken over by Tom Wagner’s Knighthead Group in July

The latter signed a contract until 2025 when he replaced Lee Bowyer in summer 2022 and was a target for Swansea in the close season before the club appointed Michael Duff. 

In 15 months at St Andrews, Eustace led Birmingham to comfortable survival last term despite significant off-field uncertainty, and overseeing a promising start to the new campaign under the club’s American owners.

But in a 789-word statement released on Tuesday, Blues CEO Garry Cook explained the decision to fire Eustace came as his ambitions and goals did not match the club’s.

‘Yesterday morning I met with John Eustace in Birmingham and shared the reasons for the decision to part company. I thanked John for his hard work,’ Cook wrote.

‘John had clear ambitions and goals for the season. Unfortunately, following a series of meetings over a number of months, it became clear that there was a misalignment with the leadership of the Club. 

‘When this happens, the best thing to do is to part company.’

Rooney has previous Championship experience in charge of Derby County

Cook also explained how sacking Eustace now would allow his successor time to assess the squad and prepare for when the transfer window re-opens in January.

The statement continued: ‘The timing of the decision allows the incoming manager sufficient time to evaluate the playing staff ahead of the January and summer transfer windows.’

Rooney has previous Championship experience in charge of Derby County. 

He kept the Rams up in 2020-21 after taking over with the club bottom of the Championship, but Derby were relegated the following season after being deducted 21 points for entering administration and financial irregularities.


It’s All Kicking Off is an exciting new podcast from Mail Sport that promises a different take on Premier League football.

It is available on MailOnline, Mail+, YouTube, Apple Music and Spotify.

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