Blackburn Rovers ban anti-Kean banners

Blackburn to prevent fans calling for manager's sacking from bringing protest signs into stadium.

Blackburn fans calling for the removal of the manager Steve Kean have been banned from displaying protest banners before and during Saturday's home match with Chelsea.

A fourth successive demonstration is planned at Ewood Park, but the club will not allow any banners into the ground until after the final whistle.

Rovers will, however, allow fans to stage their protest after the match with banners which have been handed over to stewards prior to entry.

"Any banners that have to be confiscated due to them not being offered over in good faith will not be returned and personnel may be refused entry at that point," Blackburn's stadium safety manager, John Newsham, wrote in an email sent to protest organisers.

"If any banners get into the ground and are displayed they will be removed by stewards and not returned."

After a meeting with the club and Lancashire police, protest organisers said the decision was taken after Rovers claimed there may be a counter protest against the demonstration and they wanted to reduce the chances of conflict inside the ground.

"Not being able to have banners is a blow, but we take health and safety very seriously," Glen Mullen, one of the organisers, said in a statement.

"The protest group's conduct has been exemplary throughout the last couple of months and we wish all our demonstrations to be peaceful with clear messages. Although disappointed, we respect the club's decision to impose a banner ban in the interest of public safety. We have had no incidents of public order offences during any previous protests and have no wish to see any in the future.

"We appreciate the club and the police bringing to our attention that other protest groups may exist and may be looking to cause conflict. This is something no one wishes to see at Ewood Park, which has always been a club with impeccable supporter conduct."

Kean has faced opposition from a growing number of fans after presiding over just six wins – and only one this season– in 31 Premier League matches.

Liverpool winger Stewart Downing has tipped team-mate Jose Enrique to receive a first international call-up very soon, but the Spaniard himself is concentrating on matters closer to home.

Of Kenny Dalglish's summer signings, Enrique has slotted in the best and has played every minute of the Reds' 10 league matches.

Surprisingly, considering Spain's apparent shortage of left-backs, the 25-year-old has yet to be called into the national squad, but Downing believes his performances this season should mean it is only a matter of time before that changes. "Jose is a talented player and has done very well since he's come here," said the former Aston Villa winger, himself a summer arrival.

"He must have a great chance of getting in the Spain squad and maybe he will be lining up against England [next week]." Downing told BBC Radio Merseyside: "I enjoy playing alongside him and I think you can see we're gelling as a team."

Enrique has admitted in the past he would love to play for his country but, until he gets the call, he is concentrating on developing his game for his new club. The Spaniard, a £6m signing from Newcastle, already has a good understanding with Downing down the left-hand side and he wants to push that further if he can.

"I have always enjoyed attacking. When I was younger playing in Spain, I was more of an attacking player than a defender," Enrique said. "In England you have to learn to defend because the wingers are the best in the world. I have learned a lot about defending here because my football has always been attacking. At the moment I am happy. It is easy to play with the players I am training with every day. We have a good team. But of course I want to score goals – I have never scored in the Premier League."

FA Cup-winning hero Dennis Tueart has urged Sunderland owner Ellis Short to keep faith with manager Steve Bruce.

Although four points from his side's last two games has relieved the immediate pressure on Bruce, Sunderland are 14th in the Premier League with 10 points from 10 games and a trip to Manchester United looming.

While Tueart is most closely associated with Manchester City, where he was both a player and a director, he still keeps a close eye on events in his native north east.

And even though Niall Quinn has sought to reassure Sunderland fans his exit as chairman has not placed Bruce under any extra pressure, Tueart feels Short must heed the lessons so many foreign owners have failed to accept in their flirtations with the Premier League.

"Patience is the word for Steve," said Tueart, who won the FA Cup with Sunderland in 1973. "He has brought in a lot of players and they need time to gel together. The biggest problem with foreign owners not understanding football is that they don't seem to recognise there are only four trophies to win. So if there are 10 foreign owners, they can't all win. They have to understand that."

PA

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