Allardyce to stay if Rovers go down

The Blackburn Rovers chairman, John Williams, will not even contemplate the thought, let alone discuss it at any length, but he will stick with Sam Allardyce even if they are relegated at the end of the season.

The prospect of that outcome will come into even sharper focus if Rovers' winless run stretches to 12 matches after Stoke City's arrival at Ewood Park this afternoon for arguably Williams's most important game since his club returned to the top flight seven years ago. "I'm sure he [Allardyce] hasn't come here to manage in the Championship but if we go down together, we do [go down]," Williams said yesterday.

Paul Ince was sacked because Rovers know that getting back up from the Championship would be harder for them than most, with one of the Premier League's smallest fan bases and no Jack Walker. Williams has already done the calculation. Turnover, he predicts, would more than halve, from £56m to £22m, if Rovers drop. "And that's not the end of the story," he added darkly.

For now, Rovers are trying to look on the bright side, though it took all of Allardyce's charisma to make his unveiling late on Thursday afternoon more celebration than wake. Williams has taken fierce criticism from Tony Adams and Tony Pulis over his decision to replace Ince, just 17 games in, but he stoutly defended his position. "There was a time when clubs got relegated and tomatoes were thrown at directors' cars and fans simply lost the bragging rights in the pub," he said. "These days you might end up losing your business if you're not careful. This club has been around for a long time – 1875 – and the current board did what we had to do to preserve it. Tony Adams is entitled to his own view but I won't have it be said that Blackburn Rovers are trigger-happy. Nor are we not prepared to give young British managers a chance."

Allardyce's positive pronouncements about a squad Ince insisted needed strengthening has struck Williams. "Why have we gone from seventh to 19th? Is it because we've replaced Brad Friedel with Paul Robinson and lost David Bentley? My football experts tell me no and no," he said.

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