One of Lancashire’s largest employers is backing a community-based bid to buy Blackburn Rovers.
The Blackburn Rovers Supporters Investment Trust has been inundated with offers of support and pledges of investment from fans around the world since it launched last week. One of the most high profile to date is Colin Mustoe, founder and chairman of Senator International, the UK’s largest manufacturer of office furniture, which employs more than 1,000 people mainly at its Hyndburn headquarters.
Founded in 1977, Senator has annual turnover across the group of around £100 million. Mustoe is a passionate Blackburn Rovers supporter and has offered his and his company’s help in bringing the Ewood Park club into community ownership via the newly-formed Trust. Explaining his involvement, Mustoe said: “I am delighted to support an initiative that will bring Blackburn Rovers into the ownership of the supporters and the community. I have had a corporate box at Rovers since 1993 and decided not to renew it this year but still go to all the home matches. As a prominent employer and manufacturer proud to be based in Lancashire, I am happy to lend whatever support I can to the bid.”
BRSIT is the brainchild of Wayne Wild, director of another of the region’s big employers, WEC Group, an engineering company with 400 employees in Darwen, and Sweden-based American finance professional Daniel Grabko.
Wayne Wild believes the public support from Senator International will be the catalyst for more firms in the region’s business community to back the bid. According to Wild, “Having the public backing of a highly respected businessman like Colin will bring other firms out in support as well. We need lots more businesses — large and small — to join us in backing the Trust. The more the region’s business community gets on board, the more credible and heavyweight the bid will be.”
Mustoe’s personal and corporate support is significant to the Blackburn Rovers Supporters Investment Trust, which is asking all fans to pledge their commitment to buying a share of the club to enable a serious and credible offer to be made to the current owners should they decide to sell.
Although the exact cost of a share cannot yet be determined, the Trust is building up a database of “shareholders” willing to buy as individuals or in groups when the time comes. Wild sees the importance of Mustoe’s support in the broader context: “We need people like Colin on board for their business expertise and passion for Rovers. The more local businesses that want to join with us, the better. Together, in Lancashire, we have all the expertise we need to run a successful bid. The business community coming out and publicly backing our bid will show what Blackburn Rovers means to the town and the community and why the club should be owned by the supporters.”
Wayne Wild urges supporters to register their support and fill in the questionnaire at the www.brsit.co.uk website to maintain the momentum gained since launch: “We need as many pledges as we can get to show we have the financial backing of many supporters, which gives us the credibility as and when we begin to discuss buying the club from the owners or their representatives.”
For further information, visit the BRSIT website.