Blackburn owners continue to alienate supporters

Reports this week emerged that Blackburn Rovers manager Steve Kean is close to signing a new contract with the club, despite widespread supporter protest at his reign. While the club’s owners, Indian poultry giants Venky’s insist any deal is yet to be signed, this apparent move is one which will continue to infuriate Rovers fans.

Having targeted marquee signings to lead the club to European qualification following their takeover in 2010, the new owners quickly looked to make their mark, dismissing manager Sam Allardyce, replacing the former Bolton boss by promoting Kean from Allardyce’s backroom staff. Having failed to land a high-profile recruit during the January transfer window, Rovers survived the threat of relegation by the slimmest of margins, only a 3-2 victory at Wolverhampton Wanderers securing their Premier League status.

After the summer departure of highly-rated prospect Phil Jones to Manchester United, the two parties have taken hugely contrasting paths; Jones is moving onto new levels of success, his performances for United have seen him break into the international setup – meanwhile, Rovers’ 2011/12 campaign has so far carried a similar feel to last year. In the relegation zone with just a single victory, Kean’s side look candidates for the relegation dogfight once again. With matchday protests a regular occurrence in and around Ewood Park, supporters remain adamant that a new manager is the way forward.

Determined to back their manager, the club’s hierarchy took steps to ban anti-Kean banners, insisting the players were still behind the manager, now supported by former Chelsea first-team coach Paul Clement. However, this has not altered the hostilities towards the regime, with supporters even hiring a plane to fly a banner reading ‘STEVE KEAN OUT’ over the stadium during their recent defeat at home to Chelsea. However, Venky’s remain defiant, insisting their newly-strengthened backroom staff are identifying potential additions to the Rovers squad during the January transfer window.

With Kean seemingly considered to be Rovers coach in the short-term at least, the possibility of his tenure being extended will be a frightening thought to large areas of their support. Having dismissed Allardyce shortly after the takeover to replace him with an untested manager, the apparent failure to live up to early promises had already led to frustration among fans, with the threat of relegation a far cry from the continental honours and world-class additions targeted by the club’s new owners.

However, Venky’s appear determined to stick to their plans, despite intense opposition from the Rovers faithful. In attempting to restrict protests, the divide between the club and its supporters appears to be ever-widening and with Rovers seemingly looking at another battle for Premier League survival, it would appear that the conflict between the club and its supporters will only serve as a further hindrance after an unpredictable year at Ewood Park.

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