Photograph of Ewood Park taken through football net

Chair’s Report and Comments: 2023/24

It has been an interesting and eventful 12 months both on and off the field. I will restrict my comments to off the field events and activities; there has been much written elsewhere regarding on field performances.
May 20, 2024


It has been an interesting and eventful 12 months both on and off the field.  I will restrict my comments to off the field events and activities; there has been much written elsewhere regarding on field performances.

May I remind readers of our aims which are clear and concise; it is these that we focus on, we are not a protest group.

  • Secure the assets of our Club and promote our unique heritage
  • Preserve the long term health of our Club
  • Regenerate a new support base and mitigate against lost fans

In addition to the above aims we also needed to update our supporter, Club and public interfaces and we have invested time and financial resources on this.  We also rebranded the Supporters Trust as ‘We Are The Rovers’ (WATR) to both help promote the idea that supporters are the Club and secondly to differentiate us from the Club’s Community Trust.

I also use this introduction to thank our outgoing Chair, John Murray, who stood down from the role last year so he could spend more time on business activities.  I thank our Board members for their support; we do not always agree but the strength of a good Board is that we could always reach a consensus on the way forward.  Finally, I thank our Trust members; we have had plenty of feedback which is most encouraging especially given 95%+ has been supportive of our interactions with the Club and our communications of MoU meetings.

With the help of new Board member Linda Chelton, we have been ensuring we are compliant in terms of our rules.  Governance is important to us and thanks to Linda this is an area we will now get right; clearly, we cannot legitimately criticise others if our own house is not in order.


We have held regular MoU meetings during the year with Club executives along with occasional meetings with the CEO.  We have produced newsletters after every MoU meeting to provide feedback to members.  The MoU meetings have been a great opportunity for us to be a critical friend and to hold in-depth discussion on issues such as owner relations and funding; match-day and Season Ticket pricing and supporter engagement.  The MoU gave us the opportunity to promote the idea of a ‘fan takeover’ (a key element of our stated aims).

We now need to take the MoU to the next stage and make it more representative of our fan base.  We will be taking proposals to the Club to invite representatives from various bona fide supporter membership groups, and we have already had tentative discussions with those groups.  The MoU meetings require confidentiality on occasions, and we are therefore working on Terms of Reference that will include behaviours.

Ultimately the MoU is about We Are The Rovers and our partners having real influence with the Club where our views are listened to and more importantly acted upon.  The real test for the next 12 months is what additional change and impact we can make.


The heritage of our Club is important.  We are lucky to have local Lancashire historian Steve Williams as the heritage lead on our Board.  Steve has spoken at various Club and supporter events with his excellent presentation ‘Rovers Heroes & Legends’.  Steve is also working on his WATR sponsored book ‘Rovers in Uniform’ and he will also be our lead with the Club for our forthcoming 150th Anniversary in November 2025.

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WATR have reached out to other bona fide supporter organisations.  We have an excellent relationship with our friends in ‘SAS’ the aptly named South Asian Supporters and the LGBTQ+ group ‘Proud Rovers’.  We actively supported SAS with their launch, and we attended their Open Iftar event at Ewood Park; we supported Proud Rovers at their open event at Ewood Park at the latter part of the season.  In addition, we also work with the advocates of the group ‘Her Game Too’.

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The proposal for a ‘fans takeover’ was a WATR initiative.  We initially tried this out at the pre-season friendly against Girona and this was well received by the Club, by supporter groups, the message board, by the supporters who turned up on the day as well as those from around the globe who backed the initiative.

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Again, with the support of other supporter organisations WATR initiated a further ‘fans takeover’ at the pre-Christmas game against Watford.  Several activities took place around the game including fundraising for tickets and Christmas presents for those struggling with finances.  The day was a great success, unfortunately the result was not, and the home attendance was 5,000+ above what would normally be expected for that game.  So successful was the event that our Club submitted a bid, with our input, for the EFL Fan Engagement Award; we subsequently won this national award thus showing the power of fan led engagement.  None of the above would have been achieved without the work and determination of our Board member Duncan Miller.

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It is our intention to build upon the fan engagement work of the last season.  The positive is that the Club want to work with us; our approach has been one of adding ideas and value; however, we do want to see the Club and its Community Trust working beyond the narrow and constricting boundaries of Blackburn with Darwen.  Having a unitary local authority is, in the opinion of WATR, counterproductive given our fanbase across the wider Northwest and nearby areas such as the Ribble Valley, Rossendale, Chorley, South Ribble and Hyndburn.  We are looking for a sea-change from the Club and the Community Trust to one that recognises and embraces our wider fanbase.


It is our aim to work with any owner or management team that is in place.  We want to build the match-day offering and we want Ewood Park to be an exciting and happy place to visit; in our opinion we have a long way to go to achieve this.  The new television deal brings new and additional challenges to improving the match day experience and growing attendances.

WATR wants to grow our membership and build upon our partnerships with bona fide supporter organisations.  We have recently launched a new website and this has been well received.  We also need our membership system to be more robust and interactive.

WATR also wants to grow our relationship with other key partners.  Clearly the Club and supporters are the most important but the media, local politicians and the Football Supporters Association (FSA) are also key players.  Our Board member Andy Young is our WATR representative to the FSA and thanks to Andy WATR have played a leading role inputting into the proposed Football Governance Bill which is presently being debated in parliament; thankfully the legislation attracts cross-party support.

Thank you for your support, and thank you again to all our WATR Board members.  Please keep feeding back your ideas and opinions to us.  Remember ‘Football without fans is nothing’.

Mike Graham

 Photograph of Ewood Park taken through football net

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