BRFCS News Editorial Comment
Over the last 48 hours the Rovers have made headlines across the world, so as the dust starts to settle it is an apt time to look back over recent events and consider some issues that have arisen during a most turbulent time in Rovers’ recent history.
Rovers shocked the footballing world on Monday evening with the announcement that manager Sam Allardyce and his assistant Neil MacDonald had been relieved of their duties. Whilst there had been murmurings that “trouble was brewing”, no one expected the owners to take such drastic and decisive action so quickly. Subsequently, the owners, through Venky’s chairwoman Anuradha Desai, have said that Sam was sacked because he did not fit in with their vision for the club.
The events of Monday were traumatic enough, but the events of yesterday caused uproar among sections of Rovers fans. Early morning reports from Sky Sports News suggested that two cornerstones of the club’s executive management structure, John Williams and Tom Finn, had both resigned. This understandably caused huge concern within the fan base. Both are well respected by fans, but more importantly it would have meant that the club would have been thrown into turmoil behind the scenes. As the day progressed, tensions continued as reports from Sky suggested that members of Venky’s team had arrived to discuss the terms of departure. Counterclaims on this site from respected and well-informed members that these stories were “wide of the mark” were finally given credence when [em]Lancashire Telegraph[/em]‘s Paul Plunkett confirmed on his twitter feed that John Williams had confirmed that he was not leaving the club. Rovers fans heaved a collective sigh of relief.
Reports in the national media today have been less than complimentary regarding the current situation at Ewood Park. Much of the reporting is based on rumour rather than fact, but still articles in [em]The Guardian[/em] and [em]Daily Telegraph[/em] do raise important questions that need to be answered.
The events of the last 48 hours have left many fans confused. After purchasing the club, Venky’s will feel that they have the right to run it as they see fit, and it goes without saying that they did not buy the club in order to make a complete hash of it and lose the huge investment that they have made (between £40 and 50 million according to reports). They also have the right to hire and fire the manager as they wish, and since Sam Allardyce did not fit their vision, it can be argued that it is better to take decisive action at an early stage rather than persist with an arrangement that can lead to even more problems further down the line. It can also be argued that by taking such decisive action it gives them the maximum amount of time to get things working in a manner they feel will help the club reach the “vision” that they have for the club.
Having said that, it is also quite natural for fans to raise questions and concerns that they may have. At the end of the day, the club cannot exist without the fans, for whom the club involves not only a financial investment but also a personal and emotional investment. In order that the fans can continue to identify with the club, I believe that a number of issues need to be addressed.
The first issue concerns the need for Venky’s to communicate with fans. They need to explain to fans what their vision for the club is. When the takeover was completed, there were various media reports that quoted the new owners, but as of yet they have not explained their roadmap for the future. Surely even a simple interview on Rovers TV or the official website is not beyond them.
The second issue that needs to be addressed is the role of Kentaro. Again, fans are relying on media reports for information. While some of the reporting on the matter is informed, some of it is clearly not, and it would be better if the owners came out and said exactly what the role of Kentaro is.
Thirdly there seems to be an issue regarding communication, and yesterday was an excellent case in point. Mrs Desai had given an interview that suggested that the appointment of a new manager would take months and that Venky’s were happy for Steve Kean to run team affairs for the duration of this period. However, her brother Venkatesh Rao was also giving an interview in which he said that the new manager had been identified and the appointment was in the pipeline. This is just one example and there are countless other ones where the owners are not singing from the same hymn sheet. This only serves to create confusion and add to a growing perception among fans that the owners do not know what they are doing.
At the moment fans are being left to speculate as to the direction of the club. There is no doubt that there is a great deal of uncertainty. This is most unfortunate because the focus should be on what happens “on the field” as the team enters a critical, season-defining period of matches. Consecutive home games against West Ham and Stoke are crucial — 6 points and Rovers can start to look upwards; however, two defeats and suddenly a relegation battle will loom. Unless the owners appoint a new manager very soon indeed, Steve Kean, who is a highly regarded coach, has a massive job on his hands.
Off the field it seems that John Williams and Tom Finn will be staying at the club for the time being, and that will help to bring some much-needed stability, but it is important that our new owners take charge of the situation and show some clear direction to all those involved in our club.