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Syed Ali Q & A

Guest Kamy100

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Guest Kamy100

This morning BRFCS talked to the man behind the bid to buy Blackburn Rovers, Syed Ali. Mr Ali has been granted a four week exclusivity period in which he hopes to purchase Blackburn Rovers.

The Q&A aimed to ask questions which have not been asked by the media, below are Mr Ali's answers:

• Fans are keen to learn about Your background, therefore it would be great if we could start with learning about your business background?

Based in Bahrain, Ahsan Ali Syed is the founder and President of Western Gulf Advisory (WGA).

He founded WGA in 2008, following in the footsteps of his family who have over 150 years of history in private sector lending across Asia.

Mr. Ali has been self-employed since the age of 16 and closed his first significant deal worth $1.5 million at the age of 18. Mr. Ali now plays a role in the management and the boards of over 133 companies worldwide.

Mr. Ali considers himself and his company to be experts in turnaround stories by converting non-performing assets into performing assets. Between 2003 and 2004 he bought a Canadian company for C$ 565.000 and transformed it into a valuable vehicle worth C$ 8 million within only 16 months. Mr.Ali’s expertise and professionalism is highly recognised in the financial world, which is why he acts as a financial adviser to sovereign wealth, royalty, as well as many high net worth individuals.

Mr. Ali understands entrepreneurial needs and prides himself on being a reliable partner for all his clients. One of the main reasons he started his own asset management company was because he believed in his own ability and qualifications to manage and invest his own wealth carefully. Mr.Ali strongly believes that investments are not just about profit-making and capital preservation but also about selflessness and creating social welfare.

Mr. Ali holds a bachelor degree in law as well as a master degree in finance from universities in India as well as abroad

You mentioned in interviews yesterday that you had followed Rovers since they won the Premier League in 1995, has he followed them as a fan or viewed them as a business opportunity?

I followed Blackburn Rovers for about 10 years now and has become a fan over the years.

Many fans are excited by the potential takeover, however cannot understand why you have chosen to purchase Rovers, when there are other bigger clubs like Everton, Liverpool and Newcastle up for sale, what are the reasons for purchasing Rovers?

There are two reasons why I decided to approach Rovers rather than the “big names” like Liverpool:

1. The emotional aspect that connects me with Rovers as a fan

2. The business aspect obviously giving me the chance to turn around the club with the necessary financial resources and the right strategy in place

• Some people are becoming very cynical about the huge amounts of money involved in football and believe it is moving away from the fans. Rovers fans are very proud of the community/family feeling at Blackburn Rovers and wonder if it is too early to ask if you have thoughts about how you will build from that strong sense of community belonging the club has maintained?

The community feeling at Blackburn Rovers is something that has impressed me in particular. This is why I asked all Rovers fans to treat me as one amongst them and not as an owner. When talking about the money one should keep in mind that this is a long-term investment enabling the club to grow steadily. No one wants to change the club radically but just provide the resources necessary to utilise its full potential.

Rovers are a club with a deep sense of history and tradition- the shirt, the badge and so on. Is Mr Ali planning to keep the traditions, evolve and update them or go for something radically new?

I am very well aware of the traditions as well as of the legacy of Jack Walker, no intentions to change as there is no need for change either.

Because the town is relatively small and impoverished, the relationship to the football club is altogether far more symbiotic and important than that between the big city clubs and their host communities. How do you see the town of Blackburn benefiting from his global aspirations for the club?

Although I am not looking for short-term revenues one of his goals is to make the club self-sustainable. This will involve a strategy Blackburn as well as Lancashire will take advantage of. However, it is a little pre-mature to talk about this.

The club gets poor treatment from the national media who are obsessed by the big city clubs. Are you going to use this to his advantage by "flying under the radar" as you build up the team and the business or are you going to raise the profile of Rovers from day 1?

As any true fan I want the club to get that treatment from the national media it deserves. However, this should be because of their achievements on the football field and this is something on my agenda.

What particularly impressed him about Jean-Claud Darmon and does he have some specific marketing objectives?

Jean-Claude Darmon is the so-called “father of French football”. He is very experienced in marketing football clubs and is currently not only one of our advisors but also works on a strategy for Blackburn Rovers.

• What timescales does you envisage for growing attendances and building a new stand and other facilities at Ewood?

I have a 15 year plan for the Rovers divided into 3 phases of 5 years each. The first phase will focus on marketing the club nationally and internationally, increase the capacity of the stadium and increase the facilities of the academy to enhance to potential of young talent in Lancashire.

Fans are delighted that you are looking to keep Sam and John and the people behind the scenes at Ewood because they are generally regarded as doing an excellent job. What are the characteristics you particularly looks for in a management team when he is assessing them as candidates for investment?

Obviously, Sam and John have made a fantastic job at Blackburn especially when taking their limited resources into consideration. I am a huge fan of talent and this is something I appreciate when it comes to business.

Sam is renowned for his pioneering work in the English game for introducing sports scientists and pushing at the envelope of what is possible in developing players. Would it be possible to develop a world class centre of excellence in sports science at Brockhall perhaps linked to some of the top class Universities in the region?

Our team is currently working on the different aspects of utilising the potential of Blackburn Rovers and its assets. Again, it is a little pre-mature to go into details here.

• Today is the tenth anniversary of Jack Walker's death. Jack only owned the club in the last nine years of his life yet you have plans for the next 15 years. How do you feel looking at the legacy of Jack and the prospect that his tenure will be longer and even greater than that of Jack?

I am well aware of the legacy of Jack and his inheritance. However, do not want to compete with him but wants the best for the club – as Jack did. This is all the counts at the moment for me.

How have the talks between the negotiating team and the Rovers board gone over the last 2 days? What kind of timescale are you looking in terms of completing the take over?

The talks went on very well and all parties are on the same side. What will follow is the formal procedure and unfortunately this takes time. Therefore it is very hard to predict the exact timescale. But it is obvious that Mr Ali wants to complete the takeover as soon as possible.

• I would like to put you Mr Ali into a hypothetical situation, he has completed the purchase of Blackburn Rovers, on day one what would be his immediate 5 objectives?

1. Liquidity support for Sam

2. Enhance capabilities of the academy

3. Discuss suggestions and opinions with fans

4. Marketing nationally and internationally

5. Work hard to maintain premiership status

• Finally, do you have a message for the fans?

The oxygen for the success of any football club is not financial resources but the fans that support a club. I would be truly delighted if the Rovers fans would accept me as one amongst them.

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