Blackburn Club Focus – Rovers relegated amidst backdrop of turmoil

On a dreary, miserable and wet Monday night, lowly Blackburn Rovers – one of the founder members of the Football League in 1888 and indeed the Premier League in 1992 – dropped down to the second tier of English football following a devastating 1-0 defeat at the hands of fellow bottom-six Lancashire rivals Wigan Athletic.

On Tuesday, as Rovers’ furious fans – who had spent almost the entire game the night before calling for manager Steve Kean and owners Venky’s to go – tried to get over the fact that they would not be able to look forward to Premier League football next season for the first time in over a decade, details of a damaging leaked letter from Deputy CEO Paul Hunt to club owner Anuradha Desai appeared.

In that detailed letter, which was written back in December after Rovers’ morale-sapping home defeat against Bolton, Hunt called on the owners to act upon a number of key issues in an attempt to save the club from relegation and other possible grave financial problems. Hunt, who was previously a Commercial Director at Wigan Athletic and Leicester City, also called for manager Kean to go, claiming that the Scot had lost both the crowd and the dressing room. Kean survived.

Just a day later, several media organisations claimed that Hunt had been sacked, though the club did not confirm his departure until Thursday. Surprisingly, co-owner Venkatesh Rao told the Times of India that Hunt did not leave because of that leaked letter, but instead he was moved on as a cost-cutting measure following Rovers’ relegation from the top-flight.

Given the string of events since the defeat on Monday, it appears as though Blackburn Rovers is a club in turmoil. The hatred of the Ewood Park crowd towards Kean was clear for all to see and hear during the Wigan match, yet the 44-year-old insists that he will still be at the club next season. Supporters are also increasingly unhappy about the way in which Venky’s have gone about their business since they took over in November 2010, but Rao suggested that they were not looking to sell the club.

Many locals are desperate to see the manager removed from his position and they are also keen to find out what Venky’s plans are for the club. With both of those requests unlikely to be fulfilled any time soon, these are tough times for the disheartened supporters. Indeed, the majority of fans are so upset at the current situation that they have failed to renew their season tickets, even though the already low prices were frozen up until the end of April. According to the Daily Telegraph, only 1,200 season tickets have been sold so far – which is thought to be a significant drop from current numbers.

Therefore, when Rovers travel to Chelsea on Sunday with nothing at stake and in what could be the Lancashire outfit’s final Premier League fixture for many years, expect there to be even further anger from the away supporters towards the unpopular manager Kean and his employers. After all, this may be the last time that Rovers’ fans can expect to gain substantial coverage as they make their feelings known, before they begin to prepare for life in the unfamiliar territory of the Championship.

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