The Venky's Reign of Error: Protests - Selected Media Reports
The media reporting of events at Blackburn Rovers Football Club since the Venky's bought Rovers has generally been appalling.
There have been exceptions.
However, it now appears that the media are finally waking up to what is happening.
Though too late, it is still welcomed.
Life's A Pitch.
Steve Kean may have taken Blackburn Rovers down, but he’s got no intention of leaving any time soon. In fact, according to reports, he appears to have convinced owners Venky’s not only that
he is their best chance of returning to the Premier League, but also that he can persuade the soon-to-be-out-of-contract starlet, Junior Hoilett, to sign a new deal. The Life’s A
Pitch panel isn’t so sure.
“I think it’s turned toxic and the only way to sort this out is for him to go,” says the Daily Telegraph’s Jason Burt of Rovers boss Kean. “They need to cleanse the whole club. He doesn’t
deserve to stay as manager, he didn’t do a very good job as manager. He’s created an atmosphere where Blackburn are seen as a pariah.”
Meanwhile, the Daily Mirror’s John Cross believes Kean’s chances of convincing Hoilett to stay are non-existent. “I can’t see that in a million years. If Junior Hoilett was going to stay,
come what may, then why not sign a new contract? He’s a good player, but he’s another player that underachieved last season. That should raise question marks about him, but, more importantly,
about Steve Kean and his ability to manage – motivate and man-manage. And I think he’s got so much left unanswered that I don’t see any way that he should remain in charge.”
In fact, such is the chaos at the club now that even surviving the Championship might prove to be a challenge, says The People’s Tom Hopkinson. “It’s been a crazy 18 months-two years since
Venky’s came in. ‘Shambles’ is the only way to describe the whole scenario. Unless they cleanse it, I can’t see a way forward.”
Iain McIntosh. Life's A Pitch.
It is an honest admission that the media should have listened to the Rovers fans all along:
For 18 months, their football club has been run into the ground and they have had to pay for the privilege of watching it happen. No one listened when they said that it would end in tears,
no one believed them when they said their manager was hopelessly out of his depth. Then when relegation finally came, people said they were disgraceful for getting all upset about it. Who’d be a
Blackburn Rovers fan?
Venky’s have treated those supporters in much the same way that they treat their chickens. They’ve kept them in the dark, ignored their clucking protestations and doomed them to a messy
end. Let me count the ways they failed. Their first error was employing an agent, Jerome Anderson, to advise on football matters. Experienced manager Sam Allardyce was quickly sacked, allegedly
for not being enthusiastic enough about Anderson’s clients. He was replaced by a rookie, someone who was far more enthusiastic about Anderson’s clients, mainly because he himself was one of them.
And Steve Kean wasn’t the only horse from the Anderson stable to get a run-out. John Jensen arrived to take up the assistant manager job. On merit, I’m sure. The problem with getting an agent to
look after recruitment is that the more cynically minded might suggest that vested interests were at work. Fortunately, Anderson emphatically allayed those fears by signing… erm… his own son,
Myles. He still hasn’t played a single game.
Venky’s have been a disaster. From their space cadet ambition of finishing “fourth or fifth”, as if there wasn’t much difference between the two, to their bold claim that, “if we need to
spend £5million, we’ll spend £5million” they have turned the club into a laughing stock. But the giggles ended abruptly last December when Barclays were forced to order them to deposit double
that amount into their account just to cover the wage bill. It’s one thing not to invest; it’s another to barely cover costs. And then there’s the rumour, well-placed and multi-sourced, that they
were unaware of the concept of relegation. It might not be true, but it’s a measure of their incompetence that you can’t be sure.
The much-maligned Kean, as I said here at Christmas, isn’t the biggest problem at Blackburn, but he isn’t very far down the list. He has won just 13 league games in 18 months. Wigan have
won six since the end of March. Kean appears to live on a different existential plane to the rest of us, some kind of pink-clouded nirvana of rainbows and sugarplums, Ronaldinho and impending
Champions League football. The fact that he hasn’t immediately cleared his desk and walked away to think about what he’s done is staggering. What would constitute resignation form in Kean’s
Sure, his dignity under fire was commendable, and there can be no justification for the death threats and promises of physical violence that he received, but he would have had a far quieter
life if he was actually any good at his job. His selections have been confusing, his tactics have been worse and the sight of his imperilled players failing to muster a shot of any kind against
Tottenham last weekend will live long in the memory for Blackburn fans.
Those fans, of course, realised all of this long ago. You can blame them for focusing their firepower on Kean instead of Venky’s, but given that the owners hardly ever turned up to a game,
they’d have had to shout pretty loud for them to notice. They’ve been blamed for protesting during matches and not supporting their team, but what were they supposed to do? Don the face paints,
hold a party in the top tier, link hands, sing “Kumbaya” and then throw a tantrum when everyone had gone? What would have been the point of that? They’re livid and they’ve got every right to show
Manchester United fans can sow discontent with green and gold scarves and everyone applauds. Liverpool fans can shout “get out of our club” at their ruinous owners and chant for the return
of Kenny Dalglish and everyone salutes their pluck. But when Blackburn supporters rage and roar against the usurpers who seek to annihilate their football club, they’re a disgrace? There are
double standards at work here.
Venky’s are a shambles, a plague of stupidity visited upon a team that needed to box clever. The Premier League are a disgrace for allowing yet another club to be savaged by morons. The
hapless Kean should never have been given the job in the first place, let alone been allowed to keep it for 18 months. Of all the parties involved, the supporters are the only ones who are
innocent. They don’t deserve our contempt. They deserve our sympathy.
LD. Vital Arsenal.
Bellend of the Season 2011-12
Having already asked you to cast your votes for the piffling matter of Player of the Season below, it`s time for the most prestigious and talked about gong of the close season. The coveted
Bellend of the Year trophy. In its fourth year on Vital Arsenal, the past hall of famers set an impressive benchmark of bellendery. Inaugural winner Phil Brown has happily disappeared permanently
to his sun bed having suffered the ignominy of two sackings since he was crowned. Alas, no such luck with the king c0ck of 2010 Tony Pulis and 2011`s prize c0ck Sepp Blatter.
2011-12 has seen an absolute feast of folly. We`ve had Roger Johnson- a centre half who has now experienced successive relegations with different sides- turning up "tired and
emotional" at training. Then we have Alex McLeish gifting the players and supporters at Villa Park some of the most eye bleedingly soulless football the country has ever known. But their
incompetence is small fry compared with some of the exploits at Liverpool F.C. this season. As if paying £20m for Stewart Downing isn`t criminal enough, we have the fallout from the ugly Suarez
fallout. The independent investigation document showed that Liverpool had not exactly been forthcoming with the media over the Uruguayan`s precise mutterings, but the unedifying sight of the
players and the manager- a man in his 60s- wearing a tee shirt featuring the profile of his own employee was as sartorially ill advised as it was a PR shambles.
After Suarez was subsequently found guilty, the refusal to shake Evra`s hand and Dalglish`s series of pithy, unnecessarily spiky interviews have dragged the club`s name through the dirt.
Fenway have quietly acted, forcing their manager and their rather objectionable striker to apologise, whilst Liverpool`s Director of Communications has received his P45 along with the Director of
Football who thought Jordan Henderson was worth folding money.
More amusing acts of absurdity have been in plentiful supply too. St. Totteringham`s Day caused us Gooners to delve into the archives and have a right good root around for some premature
posturing from the cocky pr*ck. Rafa van der Vaart confidently predicted that Arsenal had "no chance" of finishing above his Tottenham side back in October. Journalist Henry Winter put together
his own fantasy "North London XI" and decided that van Persie was the only geezer wearing red. But perhaps this piece from The Mirror`s Darren Lewis penned back in February is my favourite. . Can
I get an "LOL, c0ck please!" in the place?
Boss eyed wide boy John Terry doesn`t have to do much more than appear in front of a camera with that "what me guv?" look smeared all across his chops to guarantee himself a mention for
Bellend of the Season. But true to form, Terry has happily plotted the demise of a young manager for not tickling his belly often enough, almost cost his side a place in the Champions League
final due to his own brand of sociopathic selfishness and currently awaits trial for racially abusing a fellow professional. All in a year`s work for one of football`s most detestable and
shameless individuals. Still, his delightful assist and grass eating celebration as van Persie skipped away from him at the Bodge in October was heart warming in the extreme. Maybe if Chelsea
stopped singing about mowing the meadow and actually did it, their captain wouldn`t feel the need to get down on his knees and tend the grass with his teeth?
However, the ultimate accolade for Bellend of the Season is a shared one. A quartet of colluders that have conspired to rip the heart, soul and remaining vestiges of quality from a
previously pleasant, family run club with all the grace and poise of a poultry farmer plucking the feathers from its pheasants. Whilst it`s true that Blackburn Rovers have recently had bona fide
bellends such as Mark Hughes, Fat Sam and Robbie Savage in their employ in recent years, the Lancashire club was a steady, respectable Premiership club run with dignity by John Williams. Williams
was a man that appreciated Jack Walker`s legacy and Rovers were a club that generally did things the right way and with a measure of pleasantness and stability. Since the Venky`s took over,
soothsaying into the ears of Rovers fans with promises of Kaka, Ronaldinho and Champions League football on a £5m budget, the soul has been ripped from the club, resulting in its inevitable
relegation and continued asset stripping.
Complicit in this act of corporate ABH has been Steve Kean. His never ending delusion (he was still talking about a top ten finish in March) and refusal to admit that his poor management
was taking Rovers down had its part to play in Rovers` demise. There are those that scoff about the Blackburn support and their ongoing protests during matches, but they were left with no
recourse. The Venky`s constantly refused meeting requests with supporters groups, didn`t answer correspondence over fans concerns and were rarely even in the country to oversee the club`s fall
from grace. About the only thing they did do was watch games on the goggle box in India. Blackburn fans were left with no other avenue to make their voices heard as their football club was
Blackburn ended last season with a defence boasting the likes of Salgado, Nelsen, Samba and Phil Jones. Emerton and Jason Roberts were also key squad members. Salgado was frozen out over a
contract clause; the others were replaced by the likes of Bradley Orr, David Goodwillie, Anthony Modeste and Martin Olsson`s brother. Kean and the Venky`s are of course linked by agent Jerome
Anderson. Many allege that this cosy relationship ensured Kean stayed a yes man to the Venky`s whilst the poultry giants indulged Kean`s shortcomings as a coach and his delusions. (A video has
surfaced this week in which he claims to be the mastermind behind the development of Phil Jones, whilst also promising a top ten finish and a Carling Cup). Conveniently, Kean and the Venky`s gave
a contract to Myles Anderson- son of Jerome- last summer, with Kean describing him as "possibly another Chris Smalling" due to his late development.
This because Leyton Orient didn`t deem him good enough for a single game in his spell there, whilst Aberdeen let him go after a single appearance. It seems Anderson`s development is still
in bloom as he wasn`t selected for a single matchday squad in 2011-12. Kean has been a mere stooge to the whims of some mendacious owners. In January, 2011 in an interview with the Independent,
he spoke in soothing tones about "marquee signings."
"I think it is only a matter of time before there is a major landmark signing," he said. "Because they are paying the wages, the owners will give me a list of players that we could get but
no player will come to this club unless they have something to offer.
"If Ronaldinho had decided he wanted to come, I would certainly have had to meet him and find out his thoughts about work, how often he wanted to train and make sure it was every day and
with the rest of the squad. If there is going to be a marquee signing, it can`t be someone who`s just coming to graze."
Unless Anthony Modeste is a marquee signing, then this quote represents a double bind. Either the Venky`s were lying to Kean, at which point he really ought to have walked away on
principle. Or else he was complicit in this fabrication and, even worse, was willing to be the front man for him. At best, Kean is a puppet for a trio of cowboys (Indian cowboys, who`d have thunk
it?), at worst, he`s sporting spurs and a wide brimmed hat himself in making up the four horsemen of Blackburn`s apocalypse. The truly terrifying thing about the Venky`s is that it could happen
to any club. Given the absence of any proper "fit and proper person`s test" pretty much anybody can buy a football club. Not all investors are necessarily benevolent, but Blackburn fans got the
rough end of the pineapple when they ended up with the ventriloquist Venky`s and their puppet Kean. A 137 year old football club, founding member of the Football League and top flight champion as
little as 17 years ago has been brought to its knees in little under 18 months. That`s quite the hatchet job, from comfortable family run football club to farce. Rovers fans are nervously eyeing
up the likes of Portsmouth and Plymouth and wondering what`s in store for the future. For that reason, the Venky`s and Steve Kean are well earned proprietors of the Bellend of the Season award.
Perhaps they can use that gong to attract Eden Hazard to help with their promotion campaign next year?
Andrew Howells. Where’s the FA as Rovers are being robbed and relegated?
With football agent Jerome Anderson exerting such power, influence and control over a football club - where are the FA?
Football agent, Jerome Anderson, is head of the sports management company SEM, which advised Venky’s, Blackburn Rovers owners, on their takeover. Shockingly, Anderson counts among his
clients, Blackburn’s current manager, Steve Kean, who was brought in by the Venky’s, along with a number of Anderson-connected players, including the agents own son.
So, with a football agent exerting such power, influence and control over a football club - effectively ruling the roost at Ewood - where are the FA on what is without doubt unethical,
improper and rotten abuse that has seen the Pune poultry pushers plague, pillage and pulverise a founding member of our fantastic game it into the ground, in just 18 months.
Jerome Anderson’s influence
David Conn, football writer for The Guardian, commented in his blog: “A substantial, unexpected degree of influence has clearly been entrusted at Ewood Park to the football agent
Jerome Anderson, whose company, SEM, which is merged with the Swiss sports rights agency Kentaro, was advising Venky's before they bought Rovers.”
After former Blackburn boss Sam Allardyce was sensationally sacked in December 2010 and replaced by Anderson's client, Kean, Rovers were forced to deny the dismissal had been based on
a brouhaha relating to the club's transfer policy being set by Kentaro."Kentaro are our main consultants but Sam had the final call," said Venky's chairwoman, Anuradha Desai.
It seems Allardyce's suspicious about Anderson’s involvement in transfers was correct, as along with the big name sales of key players Samba and Jones, and the freezing out of experience
players - to prevent appearance related contact extension clauses being activated - came the cheap, half-witted, unintelligent Anderson influenced signings of Ruben Rochina, Mauro Formica
and even his own son, Myles Anderson - unbelievable.
The transfer of Formica in January 2011 was initially disallowed by the Premier League on ‘technical grounds’, reportedly due to the fact the deal involved a ‘third party ownership
element’ that the Premier League was not happy with.
Blackburn also signed Ruben Rochina in the same month for €450,000 from Barcelona in a deal where Rochina’s agent, Manuel Salamanca Ferrer, received a £1.65m fee - over three
times as much as the actually transfer fee! Anderson claimed to not have made any money from this.
He was involved in both transfers though, commenting on Sky TV: "I basically slept at the training ground for the month of January and helped the club in so many areas. First and foremost
trying to bring in players. We were very, very successful in that area." Formica and Rochina went on to make one league appearance during the remainder of the 2010/11 season, between
In March 2011, when it was announced that Anderson's 21-year-old footballer son, Myles, had signed a pre-contract agreement with Blackburn, sources close to the agent insisted
he had no day-to-day involvement at the club. Yet a month earlier, when John Williams left Blackburn Rovers in February 2011, after 14 years as chairman, Anuradha Desai explained that the
departure was in part due to the fact that John had "struggled to accept Jerome's role at the club."
Before Williams left, he wrote a letter to Mrs Desai - that has since been leaked - the last paragraph of which read: "Finally, our football secretary has, this morning, been
instructed by SEM to issue a mandate to a third party without any reference or approval from the board. We are not familiar with the player concerned nor is he one that has been mentioned
to us by the manager. Could you please, therefore, clarify the role of SEM in our transfer policy."
It is clear that Anderson had a cunning, controlling and controversially influential role at the club. Is the FA not supposed to govern against this sort of unethical behaviour?
The ‘governing body’ of English football
The FA was founded in 1863 as the governing body of the game in England. This means it is supposed to look after its members, the many clubs at all levels that are English football –
including Blackburn Rovers. In its Memorandum, the FA states one of its main objects as:
...to govern the game of association football with integrity and in doing so will seek to: (i) ...preventing infringements of the rules and regulations of The Association and Laws of
the Game, or other improper methods of practices in such game, and for protecting it from abuses...
I would interpret this to mean, among many things, that the FA will ensure that football agents, who represent players and managers in the game, are not in a position to have an influence
over a club – this would surely be an ‘improper practice’ and breach of the 'integrity' of the game.
Further, if an agent did have such influence and was involved in a takeover of a football club at which this agent has clients - who could benefit from this influence - this would surely
It seems I am wrong in my interpretations.
The FA has done nothing to prevent Rovers uncommunicative, ruthless and disconnected owners taking advice from and instilling control of a Premier League club (for one more game) to a
football agent. But why have the FA not intervened?
Where is the FA?
Daily Mirror journalist, David Anderson, said: "Indian owners wanted the Champions League on a budget but ended up turning a stable mid-table club into a laughing stock". There is no
doubt the ruin of Rovers is down to the bad advice the Venky’s have taken and continue to take on football matters.
Just look at how they dealt with the recent leak of former deputy CEO,Paul Hunt’s letter, that he sent to Mrs Desai in December 2010, expressing his concerns about Kean and pleading with
them to see sense to save the club from relegation – they sacked him. Kean’s still in a job though. Hunt of course, was not a client of Jerome Anderson.
Imagine for a moment that you are a football agent and you have just advised a wealthy business person on their takeover of Manchester United for example. As a further client, you also
have a complete novice wannabe manager, as well as connections to a striker no one has heard of and your own son. You advise the new owner that they should sack Sir Alex and replace him
with the novice wannabe manager, replace Wayne Rooney with the unknown striker and put your son on the books.
That scenario could actually happen; it has actually happened at Rovers (!); and it is apparently legally allowed to happen, because the FA, football’s governing body, is seemingly
willing to let it happen.
You would think the FA would have got involved to curtail the calamitous circus that has been circling Ewood Park this season, but alas, none of their extortionately remunerated
executives seemed to manage to move from the plush luxury of their indulgently decorated not-for-profit offices in central London.
If Venky’s have not tarnished the English game by so foully abusing a prestigious member of its governing body, then I’ll release a chicken onto the pitch at the next Rovers game.
To the FA, I say: where are you? It’s time you stood up to those who want to do our game harm, those who want to ruin our clubs and those who are so blatantly taking money off loyal fans
to simply line their own pockets. Stop being so cowardly, and act.
Why won't the FA tell us what's going on at Blackburn?
Sports Minister Hugh Robertson and former Home Secretary Jack Straw are to press the Football Association for a response to concerns they have raised over Blackburn Rovers' descent into
chaos since the club was taken over in November 2010 by Indian poultry conglomerate Venky's (VHPL).
Straw, who has been MP for Blackburn since 1979 and became Home Secretary following Labour's 1997 General Election victory, is so incensed by the FA's failure to provide answers to
questions Robertson put to football's governing body last July that he plans to raise the issue in the House of Commons.
The FA have, since the beginning of 2011, been examining events at Blackburn in the months following the £23million VHPL takeover.
On January 4 that year, the 'old' board of directors wrote to Venky's matriarch, Anuradha Desai, asking her to clarify what, if any, part had been played in Rovers' transfer policy by one
of the country's leading football agents, Jerome Anderson, through his agency, SEM.
That letter also raised concerns that the board were 'not even being consulted on some of the most fundamental decisions this or any other football club ever
These included the sacking of former manager Sam Allardyce and the appointment of Steve Kean as his replacement.
Kean, who is represented by SEM, was already working at the club as first-team coach, having been given that job by Allardyce in August 2009.
Anderson and SEM deny that they have acted inappropriately or in breach of FA rules. Straw met a delegation of Rovers fans in his Parliamentary office last summer and the group, accompanied
by Straw, then shared with Robertson their concerns about the way their club had been run.
He wrote to the FA on behalf of the fans and Straw. Six months on, he is still awaiting their reply.
Robertson and Straw are understood to find the ruling body's failure to respond 'baffling and unsatisfactory' and Straw is requesting an adjournment debate so he can raise the issue in the
House of Commons as a matter of wider public interest.
Documents seen by The Mail on Sunday suggest that Venky's openly admitted knowing little about football when they bought Rovers.
They relied, instead, on a number of advisers, both formal and informal.
Anderson said in a televised interview, broadcast by Sky Sports News on January 10 last year, that he had spent most of January 2011 at Blackburn working on club business.
Pushed out: Sam Allardyce left Blackburn Rovers in trying circumstances
In that interview, Anderson said that during the January 2011 transfer window: 'I basically slept at the training ground for the month of January and helped the club in so many different
He explained that this work included bringing in new players and persuading others to stay.
He added: 'We actively scoured the market and were fortunate to bring in two very talented players, [Mauro] Formica, who has gone on to become an Argentinian international, and a Spanish
under-21 international, Ruben Rochina.'
Anderson's lawyers say he did not receive any payments for work he carried out in January 2011 'other than those which are fully documented with the FA for transfer dealings in which he was
involved as an agent in bringing new players to the club and would ordinarily have been entitled to a fee'.
In November 2010, at the time of their purchase of Rovers, Venky's entered into a long-term agreement with the Swiss-based Kentaro group, who were hired to act as consultants to the
Anderson's company, SEM, have had a corporate partnership arrangement with Kentaro since February 2009 and Anderson is listed by Kentaro as a member of their 'senior management'.
Anderson, however, says he is not a shareholder, director or employee of Kentaro and has no involvement in the company's day-to-day running.
David Newton, the FA's head of integrity, wrote to Blackburn on March 2, 2011, asking questions about Rovers' relationship with agents, and what roles, if any, they had in club
The club's reply, dated 14 days later, said that Rovers had no 'contractual or customary arrangements, whether formal or informal, with SEM Limited and/or Kentaro Limited and/or any other
company in the Kentaro AG group'.
But the letter, from Rovers' then secretary, Andrew Pincher, confirmed that Venky's did have an agreement with Kentaro 'under which Kentaro provides consultancy services to VHPL in respect
of football-related business'.
Rovers, founder members of the Football League in 1888, remain the only club outside of the Manchester giants, United and City, Arsenal and Chelsea to have won the Premier League, of which
they were also founder members in 1992.
Alan Shearer and Chris Sutton, with 49 goals between them, fired Rovers to the title in 1994-95 under the guidance of Kenny Dalglish and thanks to the financial backing of Jack
When Venky's took over the club, Anuradha Desai promised to 'respect the Jack Walker legacy … to ensure that Blackburn Rovers remains one of the best-run clubs within the Premier
But after 26 months, serial boardroom upheavals, five managers including caretakers, relegation from the Premier League, protests by fans and a string of embarrassments on and off the
pitch, Rovers, founded in 1875, have become a laughing stock of the English game.
FA sources say that while they have jurisdiction over football clubs and agents, their authority over parent companies, such as VHPL, is less well-defined.
With Rovers' affairs now attracting the concerned interest of senior politicians, the FA's ability to govern all aspects of the professional game may again become a subject of even closer
scrutiny in the corridors of power.
Michael Appleton's sacking by Blackburn exposes Venky's madness
Indian owners are close to wrecking a famous club with their increasingly insane decisions.
Blackburn Rovers supporters close to weeping at the sacking of yet another manager, the third full-time occupant this season, this time
after only 67 days in the post, can now identify the club's owners, Venky's, with Albert Einstein's famous definition of insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different
In the characteristic absence, yet again, of any comment from the Indian chicken company that bought Rovers in 2010, there can seem no
other explanation for what they have done to the famous Lancashire club than that it is all madness.
Pull back from the desperate details for a moment, the near unbelievable sequence of events that began with Venky's ownership immediately being defined by the peremptory sacking of Sam Allardyce, the manager who kept the club in the Premier League from his
2008 appointment. Venky's persisted with his replacement, the inexplicably-appointed Steve Kean, until after Rovers were relegated from the Premier League last season, but then Kean finally left
in September after he was backed to sign nine players in the summer, including the £8m Jordan Rhodes, and with Rovers riding high in the Championship.
Shebby Singh, hired as their global football advisor after being watched on Malaysian television commentating as a pundit on English
football, then waited weeks to find "just the right candidate", before landing on Henning Berg, who cut a haunted figure prior to Venky's sacking him less than two months later.
Now comes the next abrupt, unexplained sacking: Michael Appleton, appointed in January to make Rovers his own third club in two months,
when he hopped across from Blackpool, to whom he had moved from Portsmouth in November. Venky's supported him to substantially change the playing squad – including selling Mauro Formica to
Palermo, and loaning Rubén Rochina to Zaragoza.. Deeply relevant are the wholesale sackings or resignations of the stable and highly regarded group of directors and executives Venky's inherited,
led by the chairman John Williams, who had maintained Rovers as a respected Premier League club for, in hindsight, a remarkably extended period since promotion in 2001.
The effort to make sense of Venky's decision-making and attitude to the football club they bought boils down to this salient fact.
Rovers' average attendance this season is 14,665. In 2010-11, only two seasons ago and Venky's first in charge, the Ewood Park average in the Premier League was 25,008.
The club's support and reputation was painstakingly rebuilt through the 1990s and 2000s, with keen effort as well as £100m from the
former hometown boy turned tax-exile steel magnate Jack Walker. In only two years 10,343 people have gone. Some of that loss is the inevitable effect of relegation, but a solid club like
Blackburn would normally expect to retain most of its support in the first season, buoyed by the hope of bouncing back. Yet at Ewood Park, more than the attritional football and the rapid
succession of unconvincing managers, the sense of chaos and remoteness of the owners at a club known previously for shrewdness, has driven supporters away, and to distraction.
The story emerging from the Appleton sacking is that Singh was instrumental rather than the two local men who found themselves in
charge at Rovers by default: Paul Agnew, the former PR man turned general manager, and Derek Shaw, who was chief executive at Preston with Agnew years ago. Whatever the truth of the internal
tensions among the ghosts in the corporate corridors at Ewood Park, the responsibility for all these decisions, the state the club is in, and the dejection of supporters, rests with
It is difficult to decipher why they have allowed all this to happen, not insisted upon the basic requirements: to have good executives
in place, who would try to make managerial appointments which could be supported for longer than, say, a couple of months. Venky's Indian chicken company is a very substantial business, built up
over many years.
Famously the chair, Anuradha Desai, said they bought Blackburn Rovers to spread the Venky's brand name around the world. In the absence
of proper communication from Pune, that makes the wreckage at Blackburn even more difficult to understand: all of this hardly reflects well on the Venky's chicken brand.
There must be more to it than madness, but there is little sense in it; another manager gone, a haemorrhage of money and a draining
away of broken-hearted support.
EXCLUSIVE: Burning money... Venky's crazy spending spree at Blackburn is revealed
Agent nets more than £1m in transfer fees
Massive wage bill puts club at risk
Rovers signed five unknown Portuguese players in summer
By Neil Ashton
PUBLISHED: 23:09, 9 April 2013
An alarming picture has emerged of the financial chaos at the heart of crisis club Blackburn Rovers.
Under global adviser Shebby Singh, millions of pounds of owners Venky’s money has been spent on a succession of disastrous signings.
Singh arrived at Ewood Park in June 2012, and despite his limited understanding of the transfer market, he operated remarkably swiftly to bring in new blood.
Global Adviser: Shebby Singh has overseen the spending at Ewood Park
As the club prepared for life in the Championship after their relegation from the Barclays Premier League last May, Singh recommended payments of more than £600,000 in agents’ fees to sign
five unknown Portuguese players.
These are players who, between them, have made just four league starts this season, and three are now on loan at other clubs. But it does not end there.
Sportsmail’s investigation has discovered that Blackburn, who could end up in League One next season, are burdened with a group of 13 players whose
combined wages and agents’ fees will cost the club £30million over the length of their contracts.
This week, Venky’s demanded that Singh, along with chief executive Derek Shaw and operations director Paul Agnew, plus caretaker manager Gary Bowyer, attend summit talks in India.
Adding to the confusion, last week Singh gave Shaw a letter ordering him to stay at home while the club investigated the former manager Henning Berg’s £2million High Court claim for
compensation. Berg, one of four managers to serve Blackburn during this insane season at Ewood Park, was dismissed after just 57 days.
However, the club insisted there was ‘no investigation’ into Shaw, even though club officials have confirmed that he received a letter from Singh. They did, however, state that £500,000 has
been paid to Berg.
Passage to India: Gary Bowyer has been summoned for a meeting with the club's owners
Rover and out: Steve Kean, Henning Berg and Michael Appleton have all left Blackburn this season
The payments made to agents by the club, third from bottom in the Championship and in danger of a second successive relegation, are staggering. One agent received more than £1m for acting
on behalf of clients Danny Murphy, Dickson Etuhu, Leon Best and loan signing Colin Kazim-Richards.
It’s a similar story with the signing of the Portuguese unknowns. For instance, agent Marcos Oliveira was paid £135,000 when Diogo Rosado, 23, was signed from Sporting Lisbon on August 31,
2012. Rosado made just one Championship start for Rovers before he was allowed to move on loan to Benfica’s B team in January.
Edinho Junior, who started just one game in the league for Rovers, is also out on loan, at Shillong Lajong in the I-League in India. Oliveira, whose name appears on the documents lodged
with the FA, was paid £100,000 in the deal that secured Junior from Portuguese side Olhanense.
Making the move: Danny Murphy joined Blackburn from Fulham in the summer
The agent also negotiated a £65,000 fee that brought jobbing Portuguese pro Nuno Henrique Goncalves, a 26-year-old defender, to Rovers last summer. Goncalves has not made a single
appearance for the club. Oliveira’s influence went beyond the Portuguese players. He received £75,000 in the deal to sign Polish goalkeeper Gregor Sandomierski on loan from Genk for a
In other moves, midfielder Fabio Nunes had shown little promise with Portuguese side Portimonense in the Segunda Liga when he was suddenly signed by Rovers, netting his agent Nuno Rolo a
staggering £150,000 commission.
Nunes, 20, has made just two Championship starts for Rovers, the last in a 2-1 home defeat by Middlesbrough in September.
Rolo pocketed a further £133,000 in fees in the deal to bring former Portugal striker Nuno Gomes, 36, to Ewood Park. Picked up from Braga, he has made just seven starts for Blackburn in the
Championship, without a goal since September.
Although Rolo has told Sportsmail he was simply used as the transfer fixer by Singh, he did confirm that he was paid for the deal.
Championship player, Premier League wages: Dickson Etuhu is understood to earn £30,000 per week
The final piece in Singh’s Portuguese jigsaw was the arrival of midfielder Paulo Jorge, 20, from Porto, for which Carlos Mendes was paid £156,000 commission. Jorge has made one seven-minute
appearance in the league against Ipswich in August and has since been loaned to a Bulgarian side.
Singh, who has seen Steve Kean resign as manager before sacking Berg and Michael Appleton this season, also authorised huge wages for players with Premier League experience.
Agent Neil Fewings earned £1m from the transactions taking Murphy and Etuhu from Fulham, the acquisition of Newcastle forward Best, and the loan deal for Kazim-Richards from
Murphy has made 33 Championship appearances and started for the first time in a month in the 3-0 defeat at Cardiff on April 1. He is on £35,000 a week, with Etuhu on £30,000 a
Injury problems: Leon Best has been out for much of the season after picking up an injury in pre-season
Best is on a similar amount — he ruptured cruciate ligaments in pre-season and only returned to the first team a month ago.
On Tuesday night, the club officially refused to comment after being made aware of the precise content of the transactions — Singh did not return calls. Sportsmail gave the financial details and the names of the agents to chief executive Shaw and club secretary Ian Silvester on Tuesday lunchtime.
Both declined to comment, as did Mendes and Oliveira.
Fewings insisted he had acted ‘in good faith and for the benefit of his clients’, while Rolo insisted that the deals he was involved in were ‘perfectly normal’.
Blackburn’s plummet down the Football League ladder may have been halted, but the boardroom situation at Ewood Park remains a shame of the sport in this
Few football club takeovers have made a mockery of the FA’s “fit and proper person” legislation quite as much as the Venky’s buyout of Blackburn Rovers in
For a start, even if they’d done a good job with the club, the motives of a group of Indian poultry farmers for getting involved in the first place were
reprehensible. Blackburn Rovers, like most other professional clubs in Britain, are an asset to its community, full of history and tradition. In this country we list buildings at the drop of a
hat, sometimes preserving structures most people would like to see pulled down and replaced. We stand in the way of progress and development to preserve some manky block of flats with rising damp
because it’s an example of classic 1970s architecture. But we allow our football clubs to be sold to just about anybody that wants them, and then stand idly by while, for example, Coventry City
are moved to play in Northampton. Blackburn Rovers is not something that should be used to further the European brand, and therefore the profits, of some Indian-based chicken farm.
The problem with the ‘fit and proper’ person test is that we’re not in Germany, where the ownership of the nation’s football clubs is strictly protected by rules and
regulations that prevent any one nutcase taking whole ownership of Bayern, or Dortmund, or Leverkusen, or anybody else. There, a percentage is held back for the fans/members and the rich
remedials who come along cannot take a wholly owned stake. Here, without such rules, Britain finds it legally difficult to turn away anybody who can write a cheque large enough to buy a football
club because their intentions for it aren’t sound or, in the case of Blackburn, because they know nothing about football and are clearly three slates short of a full roof.
But Blackburn – along with Coventry and MK Dons – stand as a living, breathing example of why the alleged presence of the rule at all is an insult to people’s
intelligence. Any right-thinking individual knows it is wholly inappropriate for Coventry City to be playing matches in front of 1,500 people in Northampton because the hedge fund that owns them
is trying to leverage a better rental deal for a soulless, out of town, empty bowl of nothing on the edge of their home city – but the league does nothing. Everybody knows that solving the
Wimbledon issue by allowing a music entrepreneur to move the club 70 miles north in order to secure planning permission for a big Asda, while bypassing the league’s promotion and relegation
structure, was reprehensible – but the league voted it through. And everybody knows that taking an old club like Blackburn and turning it into a branding vehicle for cheap Indian chicken is
pathetically piss poor – but here they are. And, while we’re here, probably worth holding our hands up and saying that while Tony Fernandes seems like a decent bloke who is trying his best for
QPR, our own Rangers are little more than a marketing expense of the Tune Group these days.
But having allowed the Venky’s in, what happened next should surely have broken some rules, and invited intervention from the game’s governors, at some point. After
all, we very diligently make all the clubs reveal, once a year, how much money they’ve paid to football agents over the previous 12 months – while, perversely, allowing them to declare the actual
transfers of players as “undisclosed fee”. That suggests somebody somewhere is concerned at the influence of agents in the English game, and wants the money they’re making from a sport that
charges extortionate ticket prices to be transparent. But they do not care enough to intervene when the Venky’s, advised by football agent Jerome Anderson, sack manager Sam Allardyce, replace him
with one of Anderson’s clients Steve Kean – a man with zero management experience – and then set about signing a number of Anderson’s clients, including his own son, as players. Agent advising
the board, agent representing the manager, agent representing most of the new signings – zero action taken.
Anderson first came to attention in this country when Thaksin Shinawatra bought Manchester City and appointed Sven Goran Eriksson as manager. A dodgier trio of
people to have involved in your football club you’d struggle to find. It was Anderson who advised the appointment of Eriksson in place of Stuart Pearce and then set about engineering the transfer
of eight players from all four corners of Europe into the City of Manchester Stadium at massive prices – Rolando Bianchi for £8.8m for example, Valeri Bojinov for £6m and so on.
Of course as we now know Shinawatra had one or two too many human rights and corruption issues hanging over his head in his homeland (which didn’t stop him passing
the fit and proper owner test in the first place incidentally) and Man City was quickly sold on to Sheikh Mansour.
That left Anderson hunting for a new project and unfortunately for Blackburn, they’re it. Anderson advised Venky’s on the takeover – the family had previously
expressed no interest in football and admit they know little about it but quickly promised Champions League football and Ronaldinho (among other outlandish nonsense).
The team started to falter badly on the pitch, quickly relegated from a position midtable security just 18 months prior, at the end of the 2011/12 season. The board
stood behind Kean, who seemed much more masterful at networking and buttering his bread on the right side than picking and motivating a team, despite storms of protest from what few long
suffering Blackburn fans remained. Incredibly, there was at least as much criticism of the atmosphere created at home games, and the perceived negative impact of it, as there was the scandalous
way the club was being run. How, exactly, were the Blackburn fans supposed to behave while their club was being run like this?
The nadir was arguably the two year contract to Myles Anderson, a 20-year-old who had previously managed just one solitary substitute appearance for Aberdeen in the
Scottish Premier League, which we all know is a hotbed of quality footballers and extremely hard to break into. Just for reference, players who made more appearances for a dreadful Aberdeen side
than Myles Anderson last season include Yoann Folly (previously released by Plymouth), Jerel Ifil (released by Swindon and Kettering), and Zander Diamond (since released by Oldham).
Kean described Anderson as a “late bloomer” blaming his lack of any first team experience anywhere on his extended time in full time education. He was only forced to
comment on the transfer at all because Myles is in fact Jerome Anderson’s son. Still, the authorities did nothing.
Anderson made zero appearances for Blackburn, five sub appearances during a loan spell with Aldershot and was released on a free to Exeter in January this year. They
released him in August after one sub appearance and he's now, according to Soccerbase at least, playing for Monza in the Italian regional leagues. Late bloomer indeed.
Once the inevitable relegation was confirmed Blackburn started last season with Kean in charge, only for him to finally resign under the weight of protest two months
in. Having point blanky refused to sack an underperforming manager for so long, Rovers then went a bit trigger happy by appointing first Henning Berg, then Michael Appleton, and sacking both
after less than two months in charge. The board’s message to a disgruntled public is delivered by Shebby Singh, who was widely derided as a clown in his previous job as an Asian television
What Rovers have now is Gary Bowyer. A man with the club at heart, who almost certainly should have been given the job last season before the dalliances with the
dull and uninspiring Berg, and the terminally overrated Appleton. But they still have the Venky’s, and despite possessing the outstanding forward outside the Premier League – Jordan Rhodes – they
now bask in the murky waters of the Championship’s lower half. A shadow of their former selves, a shell of the club they were even a few short years ago. And the people that run our game do
nothing about it.
When these people, whose motives were questionable from the very beginning, are deemed legally “fit and proper” to be in charge of a community asset like Blackburn
Rovers, you have to wonder who on earth those rules are there to actually stop.