Saturday, 20 August 2011

Puppet or Puppeteer

This instalment of my blog could be the worst thing I ever write, and could alienate me from thousands, I'm known by many who follow me on various Blackburn Rovers sites, and twitter as a positive individual who has a glass half full attitude,

I have dedicated many many hours to Blackburn Rovers throughout the years, bringing news and inside information to fellow Blackburn fans. During this transfer window in particular I can't remember last time I went to bed with my wife, or the last time we sat down together and had a conversation. In fact at the time of writing this I have been going 118 hours non stop.

People who know me always ask "When was the last time you went to bed?" The answer to that is, I don't really remember last time I had a nights sleep like most sane human beings would have.

Fans crave to know everything or anything if it involves their club, its the world we live in that football fans worldwide are addicted to football. Its a sport which is more addictive than any drug and a subject which draws more opinions than anything else that I can think of.

People put so many things on hold to get their weekly fix of football, and it takes your emotions to new extremes. This is part of the reason I have found myself dedicating most of my spare time to Blackburn Rovers. Answering questions the best I can which people ask me, Sometimes I find myself answering the same question a couple of hundred times a day, as I have always been approachable and honest.

Of course some questions I can't answer because I genuinely don't know the answer, but other questions I have found myself being unable to answer due to repercussions that these answers may bring both to the future of the club and me personally.

When you find things out or are told things in confidence, it comes at a hefty price if its about something you love and care about. Blackburn Rovers has always run through my families blood, If I was cut up into little pieces I would resemble a piece of Blackpool Rock where every layer would have the words Blackburn Rovers etched to it.

On the 28th October 1998 my brother Lee died of an Asthma attack in his sleep, he was living in Preston at the time of his death and was only 24 years old, I had just turned 20 and part of me died that day with him. Lee was buried at Pleasington Cemetery Blackburn miles away from his six young children and wife because the town of Blackburn ran through his blood, He was also buried wearing the full Blackburn Rovers strip, because as children growing up we never had flash things like other families, but one thing we did have was a passion for our football team Blackburn Rovers. It does not matter how many pounds you have in the bank, or how large your TV is, or indeed how nice your cloths are, football as a supporter is a great leveller, a little like a school uniform, Everyone is part of the same club therefore equal.

On the 19th November 2010 Rovers was taken over by the Venky's group, this was supposed to be the dawn of a new era.

Jack Walker was remembered this week as on the 17th August it was his 11th anniversary since he sadly passed away. To my horror after spending a few hours writing my personal remembrance to him, I noticed that the club had failed to recognise this important day. I personally emailed Vineeth Rao, Ken Beamish and the clubs official Website. Only Ken Beamish had the courtesy to email me back and he said that "It must of been an oversight by the club" and he would pass it on to the relevant department. Around 12.30pm a small piece was finally put on the clubs website with last years photo of the Uncle Jacks statue, This is despite fans leaving flowers and messages for Jack at the statue throughout the day. I asked myself, How can anyone involved with Blackburn Rovers forget the biggest man ever associated with the club?

This is just a small example of how things have changed in the space of 9 months and that incident is unforgivable.

Since the takeover by Venkys as supporters we have been promised the world but each and everyone of these promises has either not been followed through or has been adjusted at a later date.

Lies after Lies have been spoken in public, The owners promised that Sam Allardyce's job was safe, John Williams and various other board members were an integral part in their vision for this club to remain a family club which is built on the very values Jack Walker installed.

What happened next?

Within 5 weeks Sam Allardyce was removed from his position as Manager of Rovers,

Was this because of the style of football we played?
Was this because of the hefty defeat at Old Trafford?
Was this because of a clash of personality?
Was this because of something Sam had said?

I can tell you for a fact it was for none of these reasons, The Rao's and Mrs Desai know very little about football and it was never their desire to own a football club out right. They needed people to make decisions for them, some will say they was advised badly, but this was not about being advised this was someone else making decisions on their behalf.

It is well documented that Jerome Andersen and Philippe Huber were the individuals who brought Venky's

When you try and sell anything to anyone you need to believe in what you are selling so much so that you would buy it yourself. If you have don't personally believe it, then the likelihood is the buying party will decline the offer.

However Venkys were not the only people who was approached, and was certainly not the first. To own a football club in England which competes under FA Rules you must pass a fit and proper test, after going through due diligence, some of the candidates which Kentaro brought to the table had no chance of passing such a test, and the only ever chance they would have of owning an English team is if someone else would front it for them.

It was reported in December 2010 that Mumbai-based businessman Saurin Shah had claimed that he has issued a legal notice to the firm over a proposed tie-up for the Blackburn Rovers bid between Venky’s and his investment firm Qubic Group. The notice alleged that Venky’s was liable for the equivalent of 24 per cent stake in the club. Shah’s lawyers had written to Venky’s parent company Venkateshwara Hatcheries on December 22 threatening legal action unless the payment was made within a week. Venky’s was also bound to pay Qubic’s costs and expenses for its advice, reference and recommendations, according to the legal notice. These claims were refuted by Mrs Desai Chairperson of the Venkys group at the time and she claimed that the Qubic Group had been offered the role as advisories on a commission base in Venkys purchase of the club, however this option had not been taken up and Venkys had used their own advisers during due diligence.

Kentaro and the SEM Group worked as the adviser's, this was an issue which was carefully monitored by the FA, League rules ban any third-party ownership of clubs or players, and prohibit third parties from exerting “undue influence” over a club’s activities. When Sam Allardyce was suddenly removed as Manager it sent ripples round the English game and came as a massive surprise to everyone.

The SEM Group and Jerome Andersen were hand picking all Sam Allardyces transfer targets and offering second rate players, Allardyce was not impressed and had his own targets in mind, however Venkys were convinced/persuaded to follow their advise and they had Allardyce removed as Manager. It was very much a case of SEM saying "Jump" and Venkys responding with "How High".

Whatever SEM advised ,Venkys did, Why do you think Venkys would take someone else's advice with the biggest investment their family has ever made? Yes they are successful in the Poultry Business but a Football team takes lots of investment and far more than their yearly record profits had recorded the previous year.

When Venkys purchased the club they agreed to take on the clubs £18 million debt, as part of this agreement, terms were put in place on how this debt would be serviced. They also took out an £18 Million pound short term overdraft with Barclay's Bank which was over a term of 6 months. If Venkys had a long term vision for the club why was this overdraft short term from the offset? Venkys has promised to invest money not borrow against its assets, was they expecting investment from some-one else? Was it always Venky's idea to be here for the short term, to market their Venkys brand with no care for the club?

It was recently reported on the Insider bulletin by Marple Leaf!/who_to_follow/search/marple%20leaf

The mortgage debenture filed at Companies House gives long established bankers Barclays a charge over all income from commercial activities for this season.
The certificate of the registration of a mortgage or charge has been filed at Companies House.
It is not unusual for a bank to make such a move when a business has undergone a change of ownership, but Barclays never sought such legal security over their debts when the club was owned by the Jersey-based Walker Trust.

In addition to this came the resignation of auditors PM&M chartered accountants of Blackburn, who have had a relationship with Rovers dating back since clubs were required to produce audited accounts, is just the latest in a series of changes to the management affairs of the club following the Venky’s takeover.

Following the departure of Sam Allardyce and even more surprising his assistant Neil McDonald, First team coach Steve Kean a SEM client was put in temporary charge of the team. The coach who had no previous Management experience also felt the need to board a plane and fly out to Pune, claiming he wanted to know what Venky's plans was in the short and long term so he could relay this back to the players, as there was a lot of unrest in the changing rooms following the sacking of Allardyce which felt like an assassination.

Kean returned bullish that he was in sole charge for now and the club would continue as normal, It later emerged that Sam Allardyce spoke to Kean on the day of his sacking and Kean did not at one point let on he knew that he would be taking over. Since Sam's departure Steve Kean has failed to contact Sam once. Steve Kean knew long before Sam's departure he would be the next Manager of Blackburn Rovers and what happened after Sam's departure was co-ordinated statements claiming the club was looking for a new Manager, when the truth is these searches never took place, Kean has already been promised the job, and sure enough a few weeks later despite poor results on the pitch he was confirmed as Manager.

Who could have such an influence to have a manager sacked and replaced by Rookie? Especially when it goes against the grain of tried and tested methods

How could Steve Kean stab in the back the very guy who brought him to Ewood Park in the first place?

What did Venkys have to gain by replacing a Manager with a proven track record, and if they had nothing to gain who did?

The fans response to the appointment was very mixed, Some sections of the crowd were pleased Allardyce had gone citing his style of football as a good reason, however if we had beaten Bolton the day before he was removed Rovers would have been sat 6th in the league. However the appointment of Kean was not the man many imagined would be his replacement. Was it just a coincidence that he was Jerome Andersens client, and as the reported Chief adviser Venkys were trusting his word? What surprised me was Venkys speaking highly of Keans approach to Management coaching etc even though they lived in Pune and had not witnessed these events first hand. Had someone asked them to make this statement? It seemed a very precise statement to make about an individual they should not have had a lot of dealings with prior to Sam's removal.

On the pitch Results were beginning to cause concerns for the supporters as Rover started to spiral down the league. Communication from the club was beginning to be non-existent whilst John Williams seemed to have disappeared of the face of the planet, as the once open Chairman was not making any statements and was not available to do so.

January brought hope for the fans when star player Phil Jones and Chris Samba signed new long term contracts along with some other key players, whilst £5.5 Million was invested in new players. Rovers form was still poor on the pitch as they went through there worst run for nearly 40 years, Supporters were calling for Steve Kean's head however communication was still slow and when a statement was finally made it was to support the manager with claims his job is safe for at least the duration of his contract.

Off the pitch a mass culling was taking place as John Williams and Tom Finn both left the club on their own accord. To be fair to both individuals they have not spoken about their departure, however their departures is believed to have been because their positions had become untenable and their roles in decision making had been taken away from them. Why would Venky's who have no knowledge of running a football club give experienced individuals who are regarded as some of the best in the game no option but to leave the club? Was they advised to disregard Williams opinions and if so by who?

What did Venky's have to gain by having no recognised infrastructure within the club, especially as they was not taking a hand's on approach themselves? If they had nothing to gain who did?

New directors where added to the board but surprisingly not one of those directors are Mrs Desai or the two Rao brothers, So Venky's own a football club but are not members of the board, Why is this? Are their reasons behind the scenes why they would choose not to be a director?

The two new directors appointed to the board of the Premier League club are Mahesh Kumar Gupta and Reddy Gandhi Babu. Both are Indian nationals and hold directorships of no other UK companies. Who are these individuals? What track records do they have?

Its very interesting that earlier in the year whilst Watford FC where looking for someone to buy them out the name Jerome Andersen once again came to the forefront. Laurence Bassini was a front runner to invest in Watford and he claimed his good friend Jerome Andersen had offered him the opportunity to buy Blackburn Rovers, Nothing strange here yet, however Bassini is known to seek investment from deed poll specialist.

The Watford Observer ran a lengthy “exclusive” interview with Bassini on February 18th. But by then, Bassini had already been exposed as former bankrupt LaWrence BaZini, whose dodgy business past was far more in keeping with modern football times than all this “highly-respected” surgeon nonsense. To add to the confusion, it appeared that “there’s only one Lawrence Bazini” was a song that could be sung with neither confidence nor truth. An observant Observer reader noted that Bassini was “not a wealthy businessman..(but)… a bit of a Del Boy character,” who had “made applications to run strip clubs in the past” – which would at least give Davids Sullivan and Gold someone to talk to before West Ham’s games with Watford in next year’s Championship.

More detailed evidence unearthed by another reader, Roy Stockdill, revealed that Bazini/Bassini Had been made bankrupt as recently as October 2007, and that the family made regular appearances in the London Gazette’s insolvency section. But Stockdill concluded that the putative “strip club owner” was “perhaps not the same man.” And the WFC forum printed ‘information’ from a regular source that a six-man consortium would complete its takeover by February 18th and DID include the customary property guy – one who owned a lot of land in nearby Elstree “and has plans to move the club there within a few years.”

No takeover emerged by then. But Bassini had, ready to explain everything – the name change, the money problems, the Elstree move…and his friendship with Jerome Anderson, particularly that he turned down Rovers because “I have lived near Watford all my life…I am a Watford fan. This was one of the few bits of the interview that could be safely filed under ‘information.’ Bassini’s name change suggested he was no master of disguise, but he tried to disguise his business past, and succeeded in disguising the source of the money for the “on or around 1p-per-ordinary share” offer which the Stock Exchange statement said he and Thomas were considering.

These are alarming things to read as Jerome Andersen was entrusted in finding a reputable buyer for Blackburn Rovers but everyone he appears to have been involved with seems to have a dirty past.

One of the biggest bullets Rovers missed was when they went into due diligence with serial fraudster Ali Syed, after talks broke down with him he ended up buying Racing Santandar, but had left them high and dry as he defrauded millions of pounds out of thousands of individuals world wide offering false loans for up front set up fee's. This man was highlighted by Andersen as a potential buyer for Rovers, whilst the club was also offered to Bassini, these are serial fraudsters and good friends with Jerome Andersen, why would he try and get someone to buy Rovers who he knows to be unethical? What would he gain from this? Is it a case of "You turn and blind eye, and I will do likewise?"

I further investigated the Ali Syed and something alarming appeared

On investigating his serious fraud activities his partner in crime was revealed as Ashish Gupta, Could this individual possibly be related to the Gupta currently on the board of Blackburn's Directors?

After narrowly avoiding relegation on the final day of last season, More reassurances were offered to the fans. None of our top players would be sold and we would have a very healthy transfer budget to ensure the club does not find themselves in a relegation battle. These claims came from both the owners and Steve Kean. What followed was the sale of our most promising player Phil Jones to Manchester United, There was then reports that the bank was calling back its promise to us, and Rovers would have to pay this money back. There are claims that the bank has taken the Phil Jones money to service these debts. These could be very plausible as Everton has also found themselves a victim on the bank, However as the owners promised mass investment why are we suddenly at the mercy of the bank? What has changed? Where is the money they promised us? Or is this just a big smoke screen because they fully expected someone else to be running the club full-time now and there initial purchase was just a short term plan, were they would be the face of Rovers with no input on the football side, but they could use the club to Market their main business venture of Poultry farming.

There has been a major fall out behind closed doors with Kentaro, some say its because of the agent fee bill Venky's received from SEM, This is what they would want you to believe, the problem lies much deeper than that. Andersen groomed Venkys into purchasing the club for a short term investment with great returns quickly, He made promises along with Huber that Venkys would not have to get their hands dirty but they could still get the celebrity status by having the association with the club.

Football agents/Agencies can't own football clubs, and in the UK 99.9% of players are owned by the club. However in recent years a new bread of agent has come along. These agents own the players and as the Tevez saga over the last few seasons has proved, this type of ownership can make agents very rich very quickly.

Very few in comings and stories of failed transfers has been the story of our summer, whilst the communication coming out of the club through official channels has been none existent. Most information has been passed to individuals like me as off the record with strict instructions to keep quiet and not breathe a word.  The Manager was given an 18 Month driving ban this week, but it was just brushed under the carpet, No comment from Steve Kean, and No Comment from the club. Some may say its a personal matter, but with his profile of being the face of the club, its a little more than just trivial.

The Managers position from Venkys has not changed, he is still the Iron man despite now being the worst Manager in the clubs history in terms of results to game ratio. WHY? If Venkys has really broke all links with Kentaro surely they would want to replace the Manager even more now?

There appears to be a lot of questions in this Blog, But if you read it properly word for word it will also answer those questions in your own mind as it paints the picture of where our club currently stands.

What are Venkys options? Are they someones puppet? Or are they the Puppeteers?

Once you can answer this question, you will be able to decide for yourself what options are available to the club long term, if indeed there is a future for the club long term!

I urge you to post comments on this article, it gets lots of coverage in India and will be read by Venkys.

Feel free to contact me