Football: Blackburn fans turned away

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The Independent Online
There was more frustration and disillusionment at Blackburn last night as around 100 fans were not allowed to take part in a supporters' forum.

The fans were stopped at the gates of the Jack Walker Stand after being belatedly informed that they needed vouchers for the talk-in with the manager, Ray Harford, and the chairman, Robert Coar. Season ticket holders had initially been told they were invited, but such was the interest that Blackburn had to restrict the numbers at lunchtime yesterday.

In the end 300 of the club's 17,500 season ticket holders were allowed through for the hour-long session.

Those questions asked and answered will be broadcast later by Rovers Radio, the club's own station, who were given copyright of the event that was designed to throw light on the summer of discontent when Alan Shearer, the England striker, and Kenny Dalglish, the director of football, left the club. Local radio and two favoured newspapers were permitted to go in, but no microphones or tape recorders were allowed.

Long-standing season ticket holders, some from outside the region, were angry that a trip had been wasted. Those working at lunchtime had been unable to get vouchers to voice their views.

One supporter, Bill Ainsworth, who pays pounds 420 for his ticket, said: "I wanted to know why no one asked Alan Shearer if he was leaving during the summer. We were told every day he was staying and then he goes. Either he misled the club or the club were not telling us the truth."

Allan North, a Rovers fan for 60 years, had planned to ask pertinent questions about Blackburn's transfer dealings. He said: "We have made pounds 27m in sales in the past few years and we have almost balanced the books, so why are we not spending? We hear of all these foreign names but nothing but excuses about why they have not come here."

Earlier yesterday Harford said he believed that the loss of Shearer had been a bigger blow to the club than the departure of Dalglish. Harford said: "That is to say Alan was an ongoing situation with us if you understand what I mean. He was very much here and current."

Harford said Dalglish's departure came as no real surprise. He said: "I had a great relationship with Kenny and the pinnacle was when we took the Premiership title. I learned an awful lot from him, much of which has proved invaluable. I have not spoken to him recently but I am sure I will be doing so soon."

He added: "He didn't have an office with us in the whole of last season. In fact, he cleared his desk at the end of his time as a club manager."

n Craig Brown, the Scotland manager, said yesterday that he would raise no objection if he was asked to hand over his job to Kenny Dalglish. "I've been given the job and I'm trying to do it to the best of my ability," Brown told BBC Radio Five Live. "But if the international committee [of the Scottish Football Association] feel it is more appropriate to have Kenny in charge, that's fine. If they want to bring in Kenny, I hope he would say to me: 'Stay on and manage the under-21s'. Alex Ferguson and Kenny Dalglish are always being mentioned in connection with this job and Alex is the best available Scottish manager - his record confirms that."