Manager Kean's wife dragged into chaos at Rovers


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The Independent Online

Steve Kean was forced to defend the relationship between his wife Margaret and Venky's owner Anuradha Desai on another extraordinary day in Blackburn Rovers' disastrous season.

The club's deputy chief executive, Paul Hunt, was apparently dismissed following the leak 24 hours earlier of an email in which he had urged the owners to sack Kean, back in December. Rovers refused to confirm the decision but Graham Jones, MP for the nearby Hyndburn consistuency and a Blackburn supporter, insisted Hunt had paid for the leak with his job – and then offered a new reason for the loyalty shown to the rookie manager.

"Disgraceful sacking of Hunt," Jones tweeted. "On 22 Dec he indicated to me the problem at Rovers was the close relationship between Mrs Desai and Mrs Kean."

Kean, speaking at length for the first time since the club was relegated from the Premier League on Monday, admitted he felt the email, which he had not been made aware of and had still not read, was disappointing.

Once more he backed the club's owners, insisted he would be going nowhere, and then responded to Jones's allegation with a question. "I don't even know, who is he [Jones]?" Kean said.

He was then asked: "Does your wife have a good relationship with Desai?" He replied: "Yeah. We've been over once to India and they made myself and my wife feel very welcome; that's the kind of people they are. From a personal point of view, I've got a good relationship with the owners and I can speak with them direct; I think the most important thing is making sure our budget is a real competitive budget that can help us build a team that can go up.

"As far as the executives are concerned in different departments, I can only head up the department I've got. If Paul's left... I've actually not read it [the email]; I know it's out there and people are telling me little bits of it; I'll take time [to read it] if I ever get a full version of it. It's disappointing.

"If [the email was sent and they [the owners] were dismissive of it straight away, then I think that shows that, [if it was calling for me to be sacked] that wasn't going to happen, and maybe it wasn't even worth speaking about."

Kean then further risked his fractious relationship with Blackburn's supporters by arguing against the perception that the Venkys do not have a good knowledge of football.

"No, I don't agree with that," he said. "That's definitely 100 per cent not true. She [Desai] watches every game. You're asking me, do they know anything about football? Yes they do.

"Every time I have spoken to them they have told me categorically that they are in it for the long term. They feel emotionally bonded with the club. They want to get the club back to the level it should be at and beyond as soon as possible.

"I spoke to them on Tuesday. They are obviously disappointed, but agree we must now look forward. I am here for the long term. These are challenging times for the club and the owners, but I believe Venky's are 100 per cent the right owners."