Blackburn owners Venky's told to sack Steve Kean months ago

Letter from Rovers executive revealed that manager had 'lost dressing room and fans' but owners ignored pleas

A leaked letter written by the highest-ranking official still at Ewood Park, warned the club's owners, Venky's, that Blackburn Rovers would be relegated as long ago as last December.

Paul Hunt, Blackburn's deputy chief executive, wrote to the club's principal owner, Anuradha Desai, following the 2-1 defeat to Bolton during which protests against Rovers' manager, Steve Kean, reached a vicious crescendo. He argued that they risked relegation and administration unless they came up with "significant investment". Now that their 11-year tenure in the Premier League is over, administration is a far more likely scenario. Hunt, who has been running Ewood Park since the dismissal of the club's long-serving chief executive and former chairman, John Williams, wrote: "With the bank closing in, I fear they will look to foreclose and have the potential to implement financial restrictions upon the club that could, as a [worst-case] scenario, enforce administration.

"As you are aware, Barclays have asked for the owners to put £10m into the business. This needs to happen and I am confident this could only be a loan as we would increase the value of the club significantly. With all the speculation in the press, the playing staff value and the overall club value are depreciating on a daily basis."

The letter, obtained and reprinted by the Sporting Intelligence website (www.sportingintelligence.com), was ignored by Mrs Desai, whose backing for Kean has been unswerving.

Instead, in the month that followed, Venky's speeded up the departures of experienced, high-wage players. Chris Samba, a defender good enough to have interested Arsenal, the club captain, Ryan Nelsen, striker Jason Roberts and midfielder Keith Andrews were all allowed to leave.

The former Real Madrid defender, Michel Salgado, was told his services were no longer required since if he played again he would trigger a clause in his contract, entitling him to a new deal. After Monday night's limp defeat to Wigan Athletic confirmed Blackburn's relegation, Kean said the team that had lost seven of their final eight matches was "the youngest in the league". There is a reason for that.

Kevin Gallacher, a member of Rovers' 1995 title-winning squad, said he expected Junior Hoilett and goalkeeper Paul Robinson to leave quickly.

Perhaps most damning for the chances of Kean's survival is Hunt's conclusion that five months before he relegated Blackburn, the manager had lost the confidence of his players. He wrote: "I have supported him from the start and have been desperate for him to do well. However, I am now of the opinion that it isn't working and he is ready to go. He has lost the crowd and, as a result of this evening's game, he has lost the dressing room as well. It is a shame and disappointing but we must act now to save the club."

However, immediately following that defeat to Bolton, they forced a draw at Liverpool and beat Manchester United at Old Trafford. That bought Kean's regime time but last month there were reports of training ground bust-ups with other senior players, including Robinson, the midfielder Steven Nzonzi and defender Gaël Givet. Kean dismissed these as "laughable" and called Radio Five's 606 phone-in, where Roberts works as a presenter, to congratulate him on winning promotion with Reading. Since Kean was the man who forced Roberts out of Ewood, the striker found the call surprising.

Kean's removal was part of a 10-point plan that Hunt hoped would salvage both Blackburn and the Venky's brand which, he said, had "suffered terribly" since they paid the Walker Trust £23m for the club in November 2010. He said Blackburn were in breach of their contract with shirt manufacturer, Umbro, worth £800,000, by continuing to make Rovers shirts in India. He warned the Premier League would intervene if their brand became tarnished by association with Blackburn, asked for a coherent PR strategy and for the owners to make more appearances at Ewood. Not one was on hand on Monday night to see the club relegated.

Click here to read the letter in full.

Suggested Topics
VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition iPad app?
Arts & Entertainment
Ricky Gervais at a screening of 'Muppets Most Wanted' in London last month
tvRicky Gervais on the return of 'Derek' – and why he still ignores his critics
Sport
Luis Suarez of Liverpool celebrates his goal
sport
Arts & Entertainment
Homer meets Lego Marge in the 25th anniversary episode of The Simpsons, set to air on 4 May
tv
Arts & Entertainment
James Franco and Chris O'Dowd in Of Mice and Men on Broadway
theatreReview: Of Mice and Men, Longacre Theatre
Life & Style
Infant child breast-feeding with eyes closed
healthTo stop mummy having any more babies, according to scientists
News
news
Life & Style
Going down: Google's ambition to build an elevator into space isn't likely to be fulfilled any time soon
techTechnology giant’s scientists say there is no material strong enough for a cable from Earth into orbit
Arts & Entertainment
film
News
David Cameron sings a hymn during the enthronement service of The Most Rev Justin Welby as Archbishop of Canterbury, at Canterbury Cathedral last year
news
Life & Style
From long to Jong: Guy Pewsey gets the North Korean leader's look
fashionThe Independent heads to an Ealing hairdressers to try out the North Korean dictator's trademark do
Extras
indybest10 best smartphones
Arts & Entertainment
tvCreator Vince Gilligan sheds light on alternate endings
Life & Style
Google Doodle celebrates the 63rd anniversary of the Peak District National Park
tech
Latest in Sport
Sport
Caption competition
Caption competition
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition iPad app?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

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

Day In a Page

Ricky Gervais: 'People are waiting for me to fail. If you think it's awful, then just don't watch it'

Ricky Gervais: 'People are waiting for me to fail'

As the second series of his divisive sitcom 'Derek' hits screens, the comedian tells James Rampton why he'll never bow to the critics who habitually circle his work
Mad Men series 7, TV review: The suits are still sharp, but Don Draper has lost his edge

Mad Men returns for a final fling

The suits are still sharp, but Don Draper has lost his edge
Google finds a lift into space will never get off the ground as there is no material strong enough for a cable from Earth into orbit

Google finds a lift into space will never get off the ground

Technology giant’s scientists say there is no material strong enough for a cable from Earth into orbit
Westminster is awash with tales of young men being sexually harassed - but it's far from being just a problem in politics

Is sexual harassment a fact of gay life?

Westminster is awash with tales of young men being sexually harassed - but it's far from being just a problem in politics
Moshi Monster creator Michael Acton Smith: The man behind a British success story

Moshi Monster creator Michael Acton Smith

Acton Smith launched a world of virtual creatures who took the real world by storm
Kim Jong-un's haircut: The Independent heads to Ealing to try out the dictator's do

Our journalist tries out Kim Jong-un's haircut

The North Korean embassy in London complained when M&M Hair Academy used Kim Jong-un's image in the window. Curious, Guy Pewsey heads to the hair salon and surrenders to the clippers
A History of the First World War in 100 moments: A forgotten naval victory in which even Nature played a part

A History of the First World War in 100 moments

A forgotten naval victory in which even Nature played a part
Vespa rides on with launch of Primavera: Iconic Italian scooter still revving up millions of sales

Vespa rides on with launch of the Primavera

The Vespa has been a style icon since the 1950s and the release this month of its latest model confirms it has lost little of its lustre
Record Store Day: Independent music shops can offer a tempting alternative to downloads

Record Store Day celebrates independent music shops

This Saturday sees a host of events around the country to champion the sellers of well-grooved wax
Taunton's policy of putting philosophy at heart of its curriculum is one of secrets of its success

Education: Secret of Taunton's success

Taunton School, in Somerset, is one of the country's leading independent schools, says Richard Garner
10 best smartphones

10 best smartphones

With a number of new smartphones on the market, we round up the best around, including some more established models
Mickey Arthur: Aussie tells ECB to stick with Ashley Giles

Mickey Arthur: Aussie tells ECB to stick with Ashley Giles

The former Australia coach on why England must keep to Plan A, about his shock at their collapse Down Under, why he sent players home from India and the agonies of losing his job
Homelessness: Why is the supported lodgings lifeline under threat?

Why is the supported lodgings lifeline under threat?

Zubairi Sentongo swapped poverty in Uganda for homelessness in Britain. But a YMCA scheme connected him with a couple offering warmth and shelter
A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: When the world’s biggest shed took over Regent’s Park

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

When the world’s biggest shed took over Regent’s Park
The pain of IVF

The pain of IVF

As an Italian woman vows to keep the babies from someone else’s eggs, Julian Baggini ponders how the reality of childbirth is often messier than the natural ideal