Home > English Premier League > Are Venkys Past Point of No-return with Blackburn Rovers fans?

Are Venkys Past Point of No-return with Blackburn Rovers fans?

With relegation confirmed for Blackburn Rovers after a 11-year spell in the Premier League, their longest ever run in the top flight, in the post-war period, supporters, once again, turned their anger towards the owners, Venkys, and, manager, Steve Kean. As the dust begins to settle on the disastrous season, the mainstream media, for the first time, has taken an active interest in the on-goings at Ewood Park. Some of the “revelations” of the past few days have been well known to most of the supporters for the good part of the past 6 months. Nevertheless, with Steve Kean emphatically stating that “I’m here for the long term” as well as the owners being “100% right for the club” as well as how “these are exciting times for the club”, one has to wonder what happens next and whether Venkys are too out of touch with reality to be able to salvage the situation and stabilize a sinking ship.

If you ask any Rovers supporter whether there is anything Venkys can do to make them want to retain them as owners, the answer would be a resounding and instinctive “no”. However, if one approaches the situation as a realist, considering the fact that the ideal scenario of Venkys wanting to sell the club and potential buyers coming forward to make an acceptable offer to Venkys may not exist, supporters may have to reconsider the “no negotiation” stance that they rightfully hold. At this point, we want to present a “four-point plan” which is likely to “reset” the situation between owners and the supporters. The question, however, remains do the owners actually care what the fans think? And do they really want to make a success of their tenure? If the answers to those are yes, then they need to take a close look at the following, not for inspiration but for application.

1) Sack Steve Kean

Steve Kean undoubtedly has a poor results record in “management”, the primary criteria of judging a football manager. Whichever way he may want to spin the situation, the facts remain facts as highlighted as early as December 2011. Kean is, without a shadow of a doubt, beyond the point of no return with supporters and its not purely down to results on the pitch. His handling of the media, dubious transfers and team selection, the lack of acknowledgement of Rovers plight, and what fans see as a disrespect to their existence and views, combined with the circumstances within which he got the job in the first place, as well the “unsackable” tag which has been given to him have not made Kean a popular man. Whilst Kean survived the first wave of criticism which hit their peak during December 2011, the national media failed to look too closely at the facts, and Rovers supporters decided to “back off” in the interest of supporting the side in the most complete fashion. Instead of acknowledging that, Kean came out with ludicrous statements such as one where he said he receives “500 letters of support from fans everyday”. This time around, on the back of relegation, the national media is no longer as negligent and Rovers are under the microscope and so is Kean. Venkys should have sacked their man by now, but they must not waste another second in doing so and that is the first step towards “salvation”.

Not a smiling matter. Rovers have been relegated under the stewardship of Steve Kean, breaking many unwanted records during the 2011/12 season

2) Acknowledge their Mistakes

Even before replacing the manager, Venkys must come out and finally communicate with the fans in a transparent and honest fashion. The whole footballing world is aware of Rovers plight and it is clear that the decisions that the owners have taken in the last 18 months have resulted in relegation. Yes, the owners are new to football and they have made mistakes, but if “no one is to blame” as Venkatesh Rao states during a telephone interview with Indian media only a few days after relegation, then Venkys are delusional. There is enough blame to go around and the owners need to acknowledge that before they continue promising success and achievement for the future, something which they have been doing, foolishly, from day one.

3) Hire an Experienced and Popular Manager

The title says it all. At this point, Venkys need to think long and hard about the next manager. Not only must he be the right choice from a footballing perspective but he must also be “popular” enough with the fan-base in order to quell the frustration, worries and apathy which Venkys and Kean have instilled onto the fans. Supporters have lost faith and have spoken with their feet. Approximately 3,000 fewer fans were attending home games from just before the end of December, compared to after it. That is a crushing blow to the owners, even though they do not seem to understand its implications yet. More fans are expected to “walk away” by the time the upcoming season begins largely of the post-relegation fiasco including Kean’s unbelievable press conference for the Chelsea game. Names like Avram Grant and Dave Jones, who has an SEM link are simply not going to work. The new manager must bring the fans together and there must be no inkling of controversy around his appointment. Alan Curbishley, a tandem of Graeme Souness with club legend Tugay, as well as Mick McCarthy may all have the experience, personality and character to get supporters “on-side” and would all be available for work. However, it would be a valid question as to who in their right minds would work for Venkys with the way they have been running the club, and that leads us to the next point.

One of the logical choices for appointment as manager is former Charlton and West Ham manager Alan Curbishley who will need to be convinced of changes

4) Bring in the Professionals to Take Care of Business

This measure is on par with sacking Kean as manager in terms of its revitalizing effect and importance. Venkys must approach to re-hire John Williams and Tom Finn. Whilst it is unclear whether both men would be interested to return to Rovers in the first place, the Indians need to make it clear to them that they will have carte blanche in re-stabilizing the club and will have no interference from Pune. A communication line will be re-established with supporters, the media, and the owners and the club can be run the way any good club is supposed to be run. They will be popular appointments with the fans and bring back a feeling of familiarity as well as stability to Ewood Park. The playing staff will also be relieved and question marks over the “running of the club” would be quashed immediately just with their presence. Venkys will gain a sense of legitimacy in the process too. People can accept mistakes, but to repeat the same mistakes and to be oblivious to your responsibilities would be a fatal error on the part of the owners.

SOS needs to be sent to former Chairman John Williams and every step undertaken by Venkys to ensure his return to club

With a critical summer coming up for Blackburn Rovers, the right decisions need to be taken on who to sell, who to retain and who to buy in order to best position the club for the upcoming campaign. Williams and Finn have the background, experience and know-how to undertake those tasks as smoothly as possible whilst having as blind a support from fans as possible, in the process. With them at the helm there will be no question of vested interests over transfers either.

Concluding Thoughts

Blackburn Rovers is currently in the doldrums. Steve Kean and Venkys may not want to acknowledge it and may be promising “exciting times ahead” but delusions such as those do nothing but to infuriate an already tortured fan-base. In an ideal scenario, the owners would decide to sell the club. However, Venkys have been adamant that they would not consider a sale. If they are serious about that and they are serious about getting it right as they have been telling many people in recent months, then the time for change and action is here and now. The four point plan presented here does not guarantee success on the pitch. But it does promise to unify the fan-base and get people to focus on matters on the field instead of distractions, largely caused by mistakes undertaken by Venkys, during the past 18 months. It would also give Venkys as close a clean slate as possible with many fans, even though it may be a case of “forgive but not forget”. Digressing from any of those four points would negate the plan. This is emphatically true in terms of sacking Kean and approaching John Williams and Tom Finn. If one was a betting man, based on Venkys prior history at Rovers, you’d have to think that they would not go through with such a plan, but if they thought long and hard about it and found that their goals match those highlighted initially in this piece, then they’d be foolish not to. As much as they are the actual owners, supporters see Venkys as custodians, because after all, in their eyes, this is the club that Jack Walker built.

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  1. May 11, 2012 at 12:03 PM

    So basically, Venky’s should just reverse pretty much every decision they’ve made so far? I agree, but that would also signal a massive admission they were wrong and screwed up. The Venky’s are far too arrogant to even consider it.

  2. kasper
    May 11, 2012 at 12:27 PM

    I cant vote on either option. I distrust them. Hate them even – because I feel what has happened has been intentionel. If what has happened has been a mistake and they decide to put in £100 mill or more to get us going again – and not only sack Kean but:
    a) sack him
    b) leave him in the hands of some local fans in a remote area with a pair of pliers and a blow torch
    c) make him to talk about the positives afterwards

    I might forgive them

  3. john
    May 11, 2012 at 12:34 PM

    Patterns always repeat themselves..,,,and any new start by the dysfunctional Raos would soon be picked apart by their micro (mis)management,

  4. Steve
    May 11, 2012 at 12:46 PM

    The best article I’ve read about Rovers plight.

  5. May 11, 2012 at 12:53 PM

    It’s all too late. The venkeys have neither the financial wherewithall nore the motivation to fund a promotion bid. Administration looks most likely. ‘Business is just a matter of common sense” Aneurada Desai.

    • Blackburn Born
      May 11, 2012 at 9:18 PM

      I don’t agree they don’t have the financial knowledge and it could easily be bought in and the right skills accessed. However, it’s why run a business interest / investment as badly as it has. Bizarre.

  6. Indian Sport
    May 11, 2012 at 1:09 PM

    I believe Venky’s invested in Blackburn Rovers as an asset and not as a football club, They invested £45 million (£25 to buy + £20), recouped £25 through sale of players and now will recoup £20 million through parachute payments. Sounds like a very good business proposition. Getting rid of Big Sam makes sense because it cuts wage bill down to minimum (Kean can’t be on much). And further reducing costs dropping down a division is beneficial.

    Now, one can argue that remaining in Premier League is more lucrative. But, that is just gambling. You invest more to stay in Premier League and any additional revenue gained will be consumed.

    From a purely financial standpoint, I believe what Venkys did makes sense. But, I agree it is not right for the club or the supporters. I feel sad to see Blackburn Rovers in such a state. I hope they can bounce back soon.

    Please do not be offended by my very cold financial take on the situation. I do not support Venkys and do not have any inside knowledge

    • Iain Russell
      May 11, 2012 at 4:39 PM

      This is bang on what is happening in my opinion – I also have a feeling this is what happened at Wolves. It has become a sad day that getting relegated as a lower level team is more lucrative then staying up…

  7. Blackburn Born
    May 11, 2012 at 9:17 PM

    The financials simply do not add up – as an investment or as a brand extension exercise (for Venky Chicken). The malpractice and mismanagement make no business sense at all.

    Why is no one asking where is Robert Coar in all this? He’s been on the Board for 20+ years I’d guess. Never, as far as I can tell, has he put a penny in and is happy to be paid and totally silent. Surely someone should be asking him questions?

  8. May 12, 2012 at 2:09 AM

    Great piece Mikey. I disagree about Alan Curbishley. He really let Wolves down badly and left them in the lurch.

    I still can’t get my head around what’s gone on here. There are still far too many unanswered questions. I’m sure the most outlandish conspiracy theory isn’t as strange as the truth.

  9. May 12, 2012 at 11:35 AM

    im update

  1. May 25, 2012 at 12:26 AM
  2. May 25, 2012 at 3:22 PM

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