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[Archived] Venky's: A Year On

Guest Wen Y Hu

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Guest Wen Y Hu

Published: Saturday, 19 November 2011

Venky's: A Year On

by Kamy

They say that twelve months is a long time and certainly for Blackburn Rovers fans the last twelve months have been a long, hard slog since Venky's London Limited finally completed the takeover of Blackburn Rovers Football Club on 19 November 2010.

Let's rewind twelve months. While not having the financial resources to compete with the Premier League "big spenders", Rovers as a club were widely regarded at the time as a "model club" by the Premier League. The club was well managed by the likes of John Williams and Tom Finn, it did everything by the book and was run to very high professional standards. On the pitch the club had finished 10th the previous season and was on course for another good finish in the Premier League. So when Venky's took over, many fans were looking forward to having new owners who wanted to continue the traditions of the club and provide funding which would allow the club to compete in the transfer market.

Today, twelve months later, that well-run club is now looking to be in chaos; the professional management team has been dismantled and on the pitch the club avoided relegation last season only on the final day and has continued that poor form this season and is now firmly entrenched in the bottom three. There have been protests against the manager, who Venky's still refuse to sack despite only 6 wins in 32 league games, and now supporter anger is starting to turn towards the owners. Both on and off the pitch, the situation is the complete opposite to what it was twelve months ago.

At the time of the takeover, Venky's were party to an agreement that included an undertaking to maintain the stability of the club in the form of explicit assurances made to the Walker Trust's holding company, BRFC Investments Limited, which had a 99.9% controlling stake in the club. These assurances given by the Venky's Board in the original Shares Offer statement provided as follows. (See this 23 November 2010 article for details of the original document.)

a. Venky's "will commit funds on a consistent and systematic basis to future transfer and/or loan activity".

While the level of spending has been greater than in previous years, the figures quoted for the sales of players, in particular Phil Jones and Niko Kalinic, and the figures quoted for the players brought into the club suggest that the net transfer spend is covered by sales.

b. Venky's "intends to continue to support the existing management team and staff, and that it is committed to the future development of, and investment in, the Club's academy and youth infrastructure".

Within one month of taking over, the manager (Sam Allardyce) had been sacked; within three months the chairman (John Williams) had left; and within nine months the managing director (Tom Finn), finance officer (Martin Goodman) and secretary (Andrew Pincher) had all left the club. Thus, within just nine months of the takeover, virtually all of the "existing management team" had left the club.

c. Venky's "will continue to support, promote and extend the Club's local community and CSR activities".

Venky's have continued this work.

d. Venky's "will seek to extend the Blackburn Rovers name and brand into India, the rest of south-east Asia and beyond".

This has perhaps been the biggest success of Venky's ownership. Blackburn Rovers' brand is now recognised in India and the recent visit by the team to Pune was a huge success in PR terms.

e. Venky's "will seek to develop and improve commercial performance across sponsorship, the Club's kit deal and general merchandising activity".

Rovers' kit sponsorship was donated to a charity (Princes Trust), so the income from a kit deal was lost. In addition, revenue from matchday corporate sales has fallen.

f. Venky's "will seek to enhance the fan experience at Ewood Park itself on match days (and non match days) and to maximise season ticket sales and any remaining match day ticket sales".

Season ticket sales for this season have fallen and matchday attendances are down. Due to the team's performance and protests against the manager, many fans would argue that the fan experience on both match days and non-match days has not been enhanced.

g. Venky's "intends to improve the Club's media platforms (for example the Club's TV channel) and to become more active in the social media space".

The club's media platforms have largely remained the same as they were twelve months ago.

The above comments on the assurances made by Venky's at the time of purchasing the club quite amply illustrate that our new owners have not abided by certain key undertakings during the twelve months of their tenure of the club. Their failure to do so raises the question that is on every fan's mind: Where does Blackburn Rovers Football Club go from here?

Despite what manager Steve Kean says, on the pitch the club is in big trouble. Rovers now face a battle to retain their Premier League status with a manager who thus far has proved incapable of consistently winning football matches. There are 27 games left this season and Rovers would need the points equivalent of at least 10 wins to stand even a chance of surviving. The omens do not look good. With Kean in charge, the previous 32 games have resulted in just 6 league wins, so to even have a fighting chance of survival Kean would need to improve his games:wins ratio rather substantially. So, that leads us to the next question: What should Venky's do?

My advice to Venky's would be as follows:

  • Sack Steve Kean with immediate effect. He has proved over the last 11 months that he is not capable of managing a football team. In his place, appoint a manager with Premier League experience. The likes of Martin O'Neill, Mark Hughes and even Carlo Ancelotti could be tempted by the right project.
  • Once the manager situation is sorted out, get the off-the-field situation under control. Appoint someone who has the requisite skills to run a football club as chairman or chief executive and give this person the full authority required to run the club. Preferably ring John Williams and Tom Finn and beg them to come back to the club. Then task the chairman with bringing back professionalism in the running of Blackburn Rovers Football Club.
  • Talk to the fans, explain to them the "real" vision that you have for the club, and be honest and open about this. You will find that Blackburn Rovers fans respond well to being told the plain truth rather than being fed PR snippets.

If Venky's follow the above advice and take the necessary action, then perhaps they can start to rebuild the club and rebuild the relationship that they have with the fans. Even if they did all of the above, however, it would still take a lot of hard work to repair the damage that has been done to the club over the last twelve months. The consequences of not doing the above, however, does not bear thinking.

Twelve months ago today, Venky's took charge of the Rovers and on that day Mrs Desai, the chairperson of Venky's, made a statement full of promise:

"We are very proud to be associated with Blackburn Rovers, a team with whom we share many values and ambitions. Going forward we plan to focus on leveraging the global influence in establishing Blackburn Rovers as a truly global brand. We will absolutely respect the Jack Walker legacy and will be actively supporting the organisation to ensure that Blackburn Rovers remains one of the best run clubs within the Premier League. We are particularly pleased that the deal has full support of the Walker Trustees, the Chairman and the management team who will of course remain in place with our full support."

For many Rovers fans this leaves a very empty feeling.

This article was published to the front page here.

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Very good post by Wen.

I was doing a bit of back research myself and came across a lot of interesting stuff which although now somewhat dated is still relevant in a look back at what was promised and what has so far been delivered.

I'm sure that some of these links have been posted before but I've found them interesting reading again to try to get to grips with the Raos mentality and decision making.

The Raos

More Blackburn-Venky links at:

Rovers-Venky links

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That's a good article. Obviously a lot has been written about Venky's so to produce a piece that wasn't just regurgitating messageboard discussion must have been a challenge. Judging them by the promises made in the takeover justifies the criticism as well.

Just to add a bit of weight to one of your points:

g. Venky's "intends to improve the Club's media platforms (for example the Club's TV channel) and to become more active in the social media space".

The club's media platforms have largely remained the same as they were twelve months ago.

A study in October ranked Rovers 18th based on the way they engage with fans across the internet, with only Bolton and Swansea lagging further behind. This should be a relatively easy promise to fulfil, so to be the third worst in the division just highlights how little effort Venky's have made to stick to the promises.

A link to the article can be found here - http://www.football-marketing.com/2011/10/15/chelsea-fc-tops-social-media-league/

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I think my views on the Kean fiasco, which I think many will share, show what a shambles the club has become.

Allaryce sacked....WHY?? I would have waited until we were sure of staying in the division before making such a move. Oh well, they must have a big name lined up.

Kean given job on caretaker basis. Oh dear, I hope we can beat WHU with this guy in charge. We could do with appointing a manager before Saturday. We don't beat WHU.

I hope we can beat Stoke with this guy in charge. We could do with appointing a manager before Saturday. We don't beat Stoke. Why haven't we got a mananger in?

Kean given caretaker job on more long term basis. Not sure about this. Our form has collapsed since Sam went. Hope we have the new manager in before the transfer window.

Kean gets job on permanant basis. Team embarks on a disastrous run of results. Still hoping the club have someone lined up, maybe at the end of the season. Hope we get enough points.

Kean get improved longer contract. Eh? Why? They surely don't think this guy is a manager do they? He's had a few games now and we have been awful. What's going on? His seems to be talking bullsh! a lot

We beat relegation with a win at Wolves on the last day. Phew. Right, get rid of Kean and get a good man in pronto.

Kean blames fans and everyone else for the crime of drink driving, and lies to the court, Assole.

Kean still here at start of season. We have worst start ever. Boo Kean out. Protests start.

Things don't improve. Boo Boo Kean out and Venky's out.

Kean tries to smuggle gold out of India. WHAT, I beleive anything now.

Kean rumoured to be signing new contract. BARFF. I don't think I can be assed any more.

Kean states there is no chance of Rovers being relagated. Defeat at Wigan today. Kean not sacked. I can't be assed any more.

They should do as they are told, sack the manager and then show the people of Blackburn and the UK some respect by doing one.

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Kean tries to smuggle gold out of India. WHAT, I beleive anything now.

I don't like Kean full stop, but to be fair he was caught actually going IN to India with excess gold :)

Good article Kamy , sums it up pretty well. The way I look at it is , If everything that has happened in the last 12 months had happened at Burnley would I find it extremely funny and the answer is yes and I would be loving every minute of it. So obviously doesn't bode well.

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  • Sack Steve Kean with immediate effect. He has proved over the last 11 months that he is not capable of managing a football team. In his place, appoint a manager with Premier League experience. The likes of Martin O'Neill, Mark Hughes and even Carlo Ancelotti could be tempted by the right project.

I wouldn't even go that far.

Alan Curbishley, Dave Jones, Steve Coppell etc. There's plenty of pros out there who could do a far superior job to Steve Kean. I think Alan Shearer is the only candidate who could do any worse, tbh!

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An excellent overview to the past twelve months Kamy. Sadly, I suspect Venky's are going nowhere and with them at the helm the club is not going to avert the disasters which are ahead of us. For the life of me I can't understand why they want to continue owning the club. Desai clearly has no interest in it as she can't be bothered to get off her backside and come to England to watch what she has bought. The brothers Grimm clearly haven't got a clue and reports today suggest one of them was somewhat shocked by the hostile reception they received. Perhaps someone could point out to them that things will only get worse if they take us down. One suspects there will come a point when they daren't show their faces in Blackburn.

The Trust may not have been perfect but they safeguarded Jack's legacy for a decade. These clowns, together with their pet in the dugout, have destroyed that legacy within twelve months. Personally, I simply want to see the back of Desai, the brothers Grimm and Kean. Unfortunately, we are likely to be stuck with these clowns for years to come.

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Please please please please leave... I gave you the benefit of the doubt for so long but your lack of communication with your core customer base and your ability to make sense defying decisions by backing someone you 'like' has ensured you have lost the support of the vast majority...

I have no doubt you are good people but seriously it's no way to run a business.. The world over gets experienced people in to get the best results you guys have got rid of one of the most experienced managers and chairmen in the league...

Am stunned at how ignorant you are... Stunned...

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Good piece by Kamy but there is zero evidence that Venky's have actually achieved anything with the Rovers "brand" in India.

The Indian press are mostly disinterested and Venky's talk a good game about plans but a year on have done nothing even in their Pune home base.

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The papers are full of the Venkys disappearing act at Wigan.

Vanishing Venkys

To Quote: ''Which makes it all the more bizarre that Blackburn’s Indian owners headed to the airport at half-time without a single word of explanation. A club spokesman admitted he was perplexed by the disappearance of Venky’s Venkatesh and Balaji Rao at the break. Blackburn boss Kean, whose glass is always half full, hoped they had caught the second half from an executive box. Eye witnesses confirmed they had not.''

Most other papers carry similar.

An insult to hosts Wigan, Rovers Management and Fans and also ironically to Kean. Nevermind its just a cultural thing!

Alternatively being new to the game they might have thought matches only last 45 minutes, would not 'spook' me if that were true.

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