Martin Hardy: Boardroom cracks emerge from the chaos at Blackburn Rovers
Life Beyond the Premier League
Gary Bowyer (and Terry McPhillips) will remain in charge of first-team affairs until the end of the month, read a statement on the Blackburn Rovers' website this afternoon.
That, right now, feels like stability. Everything is relative.
"Arte et Labore". It is the Blackburn motto. "By skill and hard work."
It does not sit comfortably with the current version of a football club who became the first provincial team to reach the FA Cup final in 1882 and who were a founding member of the Football League six years later.
History continues to slip through the fingers of supporters. A decade ago, the League Cup was on display in the trophy cabinet inside Ewood Park. In 1995 they held the Premier League trophy.
In November 2010, Venky's London Ltd bought the club. Blackburn were 14th in the Premier League then. Less than a month later, Sam Allardyce was sacked as first-team manager. Blackburn were 13th in the Premier League.
Bad decisions unravel football clubs quickly. Steve Kean came and never left as quickly as he was supposed to – "a couple of months". Blackburn were relegated last season. Kean still stayed until 28 September, when in a hotel, the night before a game, he told his players his time was over. Blackburn wanted Tim Sherwood or Mark Hughes (who left the club in 2008) to take over. Henning Berg criticised the way the club was run. Berg was appointed manager. He lasted 57 days. Berg had signed a three-year deal.
Bowyer, who had a playing career with Hereford and Rotherham, and a managerial spell with Carshalton for two years in the late nineties, was promoted from reserve-team coach. He has won both of his games to move Blackburn up to 13th in the Championship.
Shebby Singh, the club's global advisor who used to play for Malaysia, admitted the new manager, and it could be Bowyer (current odds 10 -1), would only get a short-term contract.
"The best-laid plans can go wrong," he said. "You look for long-term stability, but right now, everybody has got to be on a footing where we all want to pull together to achieve certain targets.
"There's no time to indulge in someone who thinks he can come in, have three or four years on his contract, and take his time about what we've set out to achieve."
Time, like finance, is similarly slipping away. Blackburn will potentially receive £48 million over four years as part of their parachute payments. These are £16m in the first year, £16m the second year and then £8m in years three and four. In the summer they spent £8m on striker Jordan Rhodes. It was a bold statement, (if six months too late).
The VH Group is a poultry conglomerate owned by the Rao family and based in Pune, 70 miles south east of Mumbai. Anuradha Desai and her two brothers, Venkatesh and Balaji Rao, co-own the VH Group, which consists of 28 companies with a collective turnover in 2010 believed to be not far off £1bn. Balaji was the family member who wanted to take control of a football club.
A boardroom division is now said to exist between Singh on one side and Paul Agnew (operations director) and Derek Shaw (managing director) on the other. ,In an editorial today, The Lancashire Telegraph called for unity after Agnew and Shaw returned from another crisis meeting in India (and there have been a few of those). The division, the newspaper revealed, was such that the two parties did not sit next to each other during Tuesday's home win over Nottingham Forest that attracted just over 15,000. For the match against Cardiff last month it was just over 12,000. These are attendances not seen regularly at Ewood Park since before Jack Walker and Kenny Dalglish worked together.
Walker had a dream but more importantly he had direction. It was not a popular decision to sack Don Mackay in October 1991, after he led Blackburn to three fifth-placed finishes in his time in charge.
Dalglish came. History changed. How Blackburn fans must long for such vision, and such purpose. Bowyer for the rest of January does not quite compare.
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