Former English Premier League champions Blackburn Rovers were relegated on Monday evening after conceding a late goal against fellow strugglers Wigan Athletic. The relegation to the Championship completes 18 months of big talk, high expectations but no delivery from the Venky’s and their advisor’s plus management.
The blame of the relegation is being squarely put on the club’s Indian owners – the Rao family, who own the Venkateshwara Hatcheries Group and are better known as the Venky’s. Since their takeover of the club in November 2010, things have gone from bad to worse and with relegation, it proves that the Venky’s have not been able to understand how football works or have banked on advice which hasn’t brought the results.
Now the name of India and ownership of football clubs is linked to the poultry group from Pune, which is an embarrassment for any genuine football fan in India. Venky’s have done everything wrong over the last 18 months, which has led to relegation this week.
They bought the club in November 2010 for 43 million pounds under much fanfare and hype. The aim was to build on the fact that Blackburn Rovers was a solid premiership club. But a month into their reign, manager Sam Allardyce was fired, and in the January 2011 transfer window, the owners wanted to first buy Ronaldinho and then David Beckham but none of them came as their so-called UEFA Champions League ambitions proved to be hot air.
Manager Steve Kean, who took over from Allardyce, has remained in-charge since then but was often criticised and was under pressure from fans. In the end, he did not deliver and it proved the fans right that he wasn’t the man to take Blackburn Rovers ahead even though he had the trust of the owners.
Even in far-away India, no one seems to care even though, over the last 18 months, the Venky’s and Blackburn Rovers have received extensive coverage in the Indian media which has been really impressive, though it often was bad press.
The AIFF vice-president Subrata Dutta told Reuters, “Venky’s have not invested in Indian football. Apart from one exhibition match between Pune FC and the club, Blackburn Rovers has in no way contributed for Indian football. So we are not bothered about their relegation.”
“I don’t think they have served our purpose or even their purpose. Being a Pune-based company, I would have been happy if they would have invested in Pune FC rather than Blackburn Rovers,” Subrata Dutta added.
This seems to sum up the mood both in Lancashire and India. In Blackburn, people are heartbroken by the Rovers relegation, while in India, which was supposed to be a potential market, they don’t really care. While the connect at home was lost, the new one in India was never made.
Published with permission from Arunava about Football.