Blackburn edge closer to joining the financial elite

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The Independent Football

On the day Blackburn Rovers marked the 10th anniversary of the death of their great benefactor Jack Walker, the club held "cordial and productive" talks with Indian billionaire Ahsan Ali Syed about a possible £300m takeover.

Syed's team of negotiators arrived at Ewood Park yesterday morning to go through the club's books after having signed a memorandum of understanding with the club's trustees, which gives them exclusive access to the accounts for four weeks.

Syed, 36, has a family fortune of £5bn, which is controlled by his investment company Western Gulf Advisory, which is based in Bahrain and Switzerland.

The group representing Syed included his financial officer Omer Khan, negotiator Gail Monbelly of accountants PricewaterhouseCoopers, and the French football marketing pioneer Jean-Claude Darmon.

A club statement said: "Blackburn Rovers can confirm that officials have held a cordial and productive meeting with Western Gulf Advisory [WGA] staff and advisers concerning a proposed takeover of the club. The process is ongoing."

Syed, who is a Muslim based in Bahrain, has promised to hand between £80m and £100m to manager Sam Allardyce to spend on new players. If the takeover is completed quickly, then some of that money could be released in time for Allardyce to spend during the current transfer window.

Syed said: "I am very keen to move very fast and buy this club at the earliest moment. Big Sam has big ambitions for this transfer window and I would love to support his ambitions."

Blackburn would appear to be an odd choice for Syed, a married father of three from Hyderabad, India. He comes from one of the city's most prominent family businesses, which is said to have its origins in the East India Company, which was set up in 1600 to handle England's trade with the country. He also studied law at the London School of Economics.

Syed claims to have followed Blackburn for 10 years. His 15-year plan for the club involves a £300m investment in players, a stadium, training facilities and the youth academy. He believes he is in pole position to buy Rovers, although he faces competition from another Indian businessman, Saurin Shah.