The three leading fans groups of Blackburn Rovers joined forces last night in a unified call for the Venky’s ownership of the club to end.
Around 350 supporters were packed into Blakey’s at King George’s Hall to hear the Rovers Trust, BRFC Action Group and Ewood Blues discuss plans to step up opposition to the Rao family in a bid to persuade them to put Rovers up for public sale.
It’s the first time all supporters groups, which also includes BRFCS, the influential fans’ website, away travel groups and all of the international organisations, have come together to speak with one voice.
Wayne Wild, chairman of the Rovers Trust, said: “We are sending a clear signal to the owners in India and the executive at Ewood Park that all the supporter groups are united in calling for the club to be put up for sale.
“We need them to know there is no room for any doubt; they have no support at all from any official or unofficial fan organisation.”
The public meeting, which was recorded by Sky Sports News and local radio station Rock FM, heard ideas and opinions from many supporters what should be done next to escalate opposition to the Venky’s.
These ranged from boycotting a home game, silent walk-outs or late arrival to mass whistling.
A further 200 fans tuned in to a live Facebook feed of the night and contributed ideas via Twitter and other social media.
There was strong support for a campaign to take the message for the Venky’s to sell the club out to Pune in India where the company and Rao family are based.
The BRFC Action Group confirmed more than 1,000 of its members had voted to get behind the Rovers Trust’s call for an immediate public sale of Blackburn Rovers and would support the trust’s efforts to achieve this.
Alan ‘Birdy’ Birkbeck of the Ewood Blues said a demonstration at Ewood Park on a match day would be an initiative he would fully support.
Also present at the meeting was Oliver Kay, chief football correspondent at The Times, who has written long and often in support of greater fan ownership and involvement in the running of their clubs.
It was suggested that national media attention, both in the UK and in India, needs to focus on the calamitous near six year ownership of Blackburn Rovers by the Rao family - Anuradha Desai, her husband Jitendra Desai and her brothers Venkatesh Rao and Balaji Rao – who are the main shareholders in Venky’s London Limited, the company that owns the club.
Wild said: “We are prepared to take our message out to India, to professionally and politely request a meeting with the owners in their home city, to urge them to seek a way out of the mess they are in for the good of the club and the supporters. “With the backing of every other supporters group we believe we really can send a powerful message to the board at Ewood Park and the owners in Pune that we will not go away, we will continue to ask awkward questions and make public the terrible financial mismanagement of Blackburn Rovers.
“The good name of their companies and their reputation in India is at stake, not to mention what other business colleagues must think of the way they have created such a toxic brand in one of the world’s most high profile sports.”
It should also be noted there was not one word said against the team or the manager last night. The message is clear; this is about the owners, not the current league position.