Blackburn Rovers farce deepens as Shebby Singh sacks Michael Appleton by letter amid power struggle

Dismissal came after power struggle swung back to Rovers' 'global adviser'

Michael Appleton was sacked by letter on the orders of the Blackburn Rovers "global adviser" whom he had never met, as Rovers continued their steep descent to becoming the most ridiculous club in British football.

Appleton, the third Rovers manager to be moved on this season, became the pawn in a power struggle between managing director Derek Shaw, who hired him, and global adviser Shebby Singh, whom Appleton believes wanted him out because Singh has an eye on a semi-managerial role with the first team. Singh, who had been absent from the club since Shaw successfully lobbied the club's Indian owners, Venky's, to hire Appleton, has recently returned, having taken legal advice which reinforces his authority at Ewood Park, according to several sources. He appears to have declared Appleton's appointment by Shaw to be legally invalid. Singh did not respond to The Independent's inquiries.

Singh and Shaw have not spoken to each other since December and Shaw only seems to have been aware of Singh's decision to dismiss Appleton – under whose reign Rovers have slipped to 18th place in the Championship, four points above the bottom three – shortly before the 37-year-old manager arrived for a meeting with academy staff at around 10am on Tuesday morning.

Appleton, who took charge after spending two months at Blackpool, had anticipated presiding over a clear-out at the club this summer, having inherited a squad whose composition baffled him. He did not believe that Danny Murphy, signed from Fulham on wages of around £30,000 a week, was delivering enough to command the package of loyalty and bonus payments which had seen him choose Rovers rather than Queen's Park Rangers.

The collection of Portuguese players – signed under Singh's direction during last summer's transfer window – also particularly baffled Appleton. Diogo Rosado, 23, joined from Sporting Lisbon on a three-year deal, with Nuno Henrique, 26, arriving from Academica de Coimbra also on a three-year deal. Neither of the two recruits, part of six who arrived from Portugal, have played for Appleton. Steve Kean, Venky's first Rovers manager, admitted he had never heard of some, shortly before his own dismissal.

Singh has reinstated reserve-team coach Gary Bowyer – whom he had installed in temporary charge before Shaw and Rovers chief executive Paul Agnew flew to India to persuade matriarch Anuradha Desai to appoint Appleton – as manager until the end of the season. Bowyer, son of the Nottingham Forest European Cup winner Ian Bowyer, had felt that his Blackburn career was over when Shaw seemed to have wrested control from Singh. But Shaw's own position is the one in doubt, now that the power struggle has swung the other way.

Though a victim of the club's internecine strife, Appleton did not provide the upswing the Indians had hoped for and was sacked after a run of eight winless games, including last Wednesday's FA Cup quarter-final exit to Millwall and a desperately poor display in Sunday's 1-1 derby draw against Burnley. Bowyer's record as caretaker – won three, drawn one – suggested he deserved a longer run.

With attendances dwindling, the Rovers Trust last week renewed its offer to help the Desai family with expertise, in return for a say in the running of the club. They have received no reply. "It is obvious to any experienced fan or football professional that to keep changing managers – we are now looking for our sixth this season – will only lead to yet more instability and uncertainty," the Trust said. "The owners have to face up to the fact they are entirely responsible for the situation we find ourselves in with a second successive relegation a distinct possibility."

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Billie Piper as Brona in Penny Dreadful
tvReview: It’s business as usual in Victorian London. Let’s hope that changes as we get further into the new series spoiler alert
Life and Style
A nurse tends to a recovering patient on a general ward at The Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Birmingham
health
News
science
Arts and Entertainment
No Offence
tvReview: No Offence has characters who are larger than life and yet somehow completely true to life at the same time spoiler alert
News
Chuck Norris pictured in 1996
people
Arts and Entertainment
Sarah Lucas, I SCREAM DADDIO, Installation View, British Pavilion 2015
artWhy Sarah Lucas is the perfect choice to represent British art at the Venice Biennale
News
A voter placing a ballot paper in the box at a polling station
i100
News
people
Arts and Entertainment
The Queen (Kristin Scott Thomas) in The Audience
theatreReview: Stephen Daldry's direction is crisp in perfectly-timed revival
Sport
football
Caption competition
Caption competition
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

General Election 2015: Ed Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

He was meant to be Labour's biggest handicap - but has become almost an asset
General Election 2015: A guide to the smaller parties, from the the National Health Action Party to the Church of the Militant Elvis Party

On the margins

From Militant Elvis to Women's Equality: a guide to the underdogs standing in the election
Amr Darrag: Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister in exile still believes Egypt's military regime can be replaced with 'moderate' Islamic rule

'This is the battle of young Egypt for the future of our country'

Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister Amr Darrag still believes the opposition can rid Egypt of its military regime and replace it with 'moderate' Islamic rule, he tells Robert Fisk
Why patients must rely less on doctors: Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'

Why patients must rely less on doctors

Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'
Sarah Lucas is the perfect artist to represent Britain at the Venice Biennale

Flesh in Venice

Sarah Lucas has filled the British pavilion at the Venice Biennale with slinky cats and casts of her female friends' private parts. It makes you proud to be a woman, says Karen Wright
11 best anti-ageing day creams

11 best anti-ageing day creams

Slow down the ageing process with one of these high-performance, hardworking anti-agers
Juventus 2 Real Madrid 1: Five things we learnt, including Iker Casillas is past it and Carlos Tevez remains effective

Juventus vs Real Madrid

Five things we learnt from the Italian's Champions League first leg win over the Spanish giants
Ashes 2015: Test series looks a lost cause for England... whoever takes over as ECB director of cricket

Ashes series looks a lost cause for England...

Whoever takes over as ECB director of cricket, says Stephen Brenkley
Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

China's influence on fashion

At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

Rainbow shades

It's all bright on the night
'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power