No preamble required for this one. Many thanks to Rovers fan Mikey Delap for writing this brilliant piece for the site. As bad decisions go, this is about as bad as they come.
As a fan of a Venky’s run Blackburn Rovers writing an article on the club’s worst footballing decision you’d imagine it should be a doddle right? I mean, it’s easy when your spoilt for choice right?
Well therein lies the problem. Looking at the timespan of 2010 – 2013 there are probably more poor decisions and cock ups at my club than there were in the other timespan we know of, the good stuff, the stuff we actually enjoyed. Others would call it the years 1875 – November 2010. I suppose we’d call it pre-Venky’s. Since their ill-fated attempt at running a football club came to fruition we’ve seen reputable managers sacked in favour of unknown (and useless) ones, alleged agent involvement at board level, veteran players unceremoniously turfed out of Ewood Park in favour of players you’d struggle to find on Wikipedia, large sums of money being spent on players who are either over the hill or Portuguese and under qualified people being employed, often with job titles no-one has ever heard of before.
Yes, it’s been a bumpy ride and my word there has been some ludicrous decision making but for the worst of the lot you have to go right to the beginning – no not the Garden of Eden bible thing – back when Venky’s first bought Blackburn Rovers.
For smart business people who have a very successful track record in their main line of making a living (chicken and pharmaceuticals) the decision to purchase a football club looked a strange one. Where was the background and the apparent nous? Or at least the connection to the game so that even if they didn’t know what they were playing at then there were people they could trust and hire who did know the game.
As we’re probably aware of by now, an unnamed agent – likes to go on Sky Sports News and shout at Blackburn fans, also a fan of tantric dancing – was the one selling them the deal. He was the one who gave the advice, he was the one who sold them this easy dream of running a football club. But Venky’s were the ones who bought into it without doing the right due diligence, their primary concern was boosting their own brand in an area that had barely heard of them until they came steamrollering into East Lancashire. The rest was merely supposed to be an easy self servicing sports entity. A walk in the park if you will, it would practically run itself.
The simple fact is that was never the case.
Football is a passion and a hobby, not just a business. You need a proper understanding of what makes the proverbial clock tick at a football club, it’s such a niche environment and with customers who are less than forgiving.
No doubt, they’ve improved their brand awareness in this part of the world. Who hasn’t heard of them now? You could argue that it’s been a relentless stream of bad publicity, but anyone who works in marketing and PR will tell you there is no such thing as bad publicity. It’s the pockets where Venky’s have been hit – that port-relegation summer shopping spree on Jordan Rhodes, Leon Best and Dickson Etuhu to name a few has left Rovers losing a reported £2m a month. Who do you think is funding that? Furthermore is there even a way out?
Essentially Venky’s taking over a famous club like Blackburn was a classic case of naivety. It was unquestionably a dreadful decision and as a result the club I love has never been able to look back nor look forward with any enthusiasm since, that the current owners refuse to accept their failings so far and learn from their past mistakes is perhaps as inexplicable as making the worst call possible in the first place.
If you’re not a big fan of Arte et Labore it’s easy to look at Rovers and giggle. But one day it might happen to you and take it from someone that knows – I wouldn’t wish it on anybody. Not even Burnley… well OK, maybe Burnley.
Make sure you follow Mikey on twitter @MikeyDelap