How chaos reigns at Kean's Premier League strugglers

 

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The Independent Online

Blackburn Rovers' Indian owners yesterday oversaw the departure of the club's commercial director, Simon Williams. Venky's has not replaced his father, chairman John Williams, who resigned in February, or managing director Tom Finn, who left last May. Finance director Martin Goodman left in August.

Rovers' prime playing asset – captain Christopher Samba – yesterday arrived late for training, 48 hours after putting in a transfer request that Venky's rejected. It also emerged that Venky's have brought in Joao Souza – manager of their Brazilian division – to help land players in the rest of the transfer window. It is unclear whether Rovers have money to spend, considering that their bank, Barclays, has told Venky's it must deposit £10 million in the club's account or risk no extension of credit to pay the players' wages beyond this month.

The financier Ian Battersby, one of few to have met Anuradha Desai, the matriarch of the Rao family which controls Venky's, told i: "They thought the initial down-payment [£23m] to buy the club was essentially 'job done'. With an annual working capital injection of £3m to £5m alongside astute player trading, they [thought] they could expand their brand."

Barclays is understood to have advised Rovers that cashing in on Samba could transmit the message that the club are selling, thus causing a reduction in the value of other assets.

Battersby rejected the notion that the Raos were out to asset-strip the club. It became clear to him, however, that the club were expected to operate like all 170 Venky's Group subsidiaries – with one business head (the manager, Steve Kean, above) reporting directly to the board. This explains Kean's monthly trips to Pune.

Battersby said Kean had taken undue abuse from fans. "The amount of vitriol has alienated the club from the wider football community and it's meant that few are sympathetic of the club's plight," he said. "It's a soap opera which has drowned out the more serious questions needing to be asked about the ruining of a football club."

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