Running a club to ground

They have now expressed interest in owning a team in India.

Written by Mihir Vasavda | Published: April 13, 2013 1:02 am

There’s no prescribed way of running a football club but if ever there was a blueprint of how not to run it,then Venky’s handling of Blackburn Rovers would be a perfect example. Their three chaotic years with the Lancashire-based side have left the fans weeping and the club not just in danger of being relegated to the third division,but also a financial crisis.

Venky’s are certainly not the only club owners who have incurred the fan’s displeasure. We have seen the owners of Manchester United (USA-based Glazer family) and Chelsea (Russian billionaire Roman Abramovich) constantly get heckled by supporters. However,these sides have been able to produce success on the field and have held the ship together not just in terms of performance,but also their financials. Not just have the Venky’s stayed aloof from the fans,which has increased the distance between fans and owners,but have also become infamous for their bizarre and arrogant decision-making – from having five managers in the ongoing season to appointing Malaysian TV pundit Shebby Singh as their ‘global advisor’. They did not make themselves fan favourites when they made tall claims,promising to get the likes of Ronaldinho and Beckham at Ewood Park,but only managed to sign the former – for an animation movie.

Laughably,Singh’s first major assignment for the Venky’s was not football-related. He was made to organise a press conference for the Indian boxing contingent (also sponsored by the Venky’s),a day before the London Olympics began last year. Now,reports claim that the club has paid absurd sums to relatively unknown players and agents. Despite all that,the side is now a relegation candidate in England’s second tier league.

By becoming the first Indian owners of a Premier League club,the Venky’s were supposed to be the face of India’s growing image as football’s next big destination. Instead,they have turned into the ‘faceless owners’ whose decision making has only exposed their lack of regard for not just footballing knowledge,but also tradition.

They have now expressed interest in owning a team in India. The All India Football Federation would do well to look at the state of affairs at Blackburn before taking a final call in May.

Mihir is senior correspondent based in Mumbai mihir.vasavda@expressindia.com

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