By Nick Harris
SJA Internet Sports Writer of the Year
20 December 2011
A meeting between Blackburn’s board and fans’ representatives, scheduled for this week with the intention of letting supporters know what is happening at the club, has been indefinitely postponed, Sportingintelligence can reveal.
The meeting, promised in exchange for a ‘truce’ on protests against Venky’s and Steve Kean, is expected to go ahead at some point in January but no date has been set.
Sportingintelligence has obtained a copy of the agenda – 64 questions posed by the fans. Those questions are published, verbatim and in full, below.
It is understood the meeting has been postponed as the Ewood Park-based members of the club’s executive management team want to give their full attention to the crisis enveloping the club, including deciding the fate of manager Steve Kean.
The 64 questions that Blackburn fans want the club / owners / board to answer
1a). Why did Venky’s buy Blackburn?
1b). What money was paid for the club’s shares and what sums was contractually committed for future investment? And have these sums been honoured?
1c). What money has been invested by Venky’s in cash since the takeover? And what firm commitments can Venky’s make – in precise cash terms – about investment in January / and in 2012 / and in the next three years?
1d). Media reports say Barclays asked for £10m by 31 December. Is this correct? If so, why was this money requested? Will it be paid?
2a). What is Jerome Anderson’s role at the club, officially or unofficially?
2b). Is it true Jerome Anderson’s involvement alienated the incumbent directors (including John Williams and Tom Finn and perhaps others) to such an extent that they felt marginalised and unable to remain at the club?
2c). Is it true Steve Kean was appointed on Jerome Anderson’s say-so?
3a). Who is identifying player targets for the club?
3b). Who has identified the players brought to the club during the Venky’s era?
3c). Is it true that Steve Kean has been peripheral to choosing some targets? If so, why?
4. Why has the amount we spend on agents’ fees reached similar levels to Manchester United despite spending far less on players and buying players of a far lower calibre?
5. Why does no-one employed by Venky’s in England, including the board, seen not to know what is happening at Blackburn Rovers – from a strategic point of view – on a daily basis?
6. How cut adrift at the bottom of the league does our club have to be before Steve Kean is removed as manager of Blackburn Rovers?
7. Mrs. A Desai seems to have control of all major decisions at Ewood Park despite not having been to the club on more than one occasion. If Mrs. Desai does not make the decisions, who does?
8. Why do we not have a chairman? When will this role be filled? Are we actively searching for one?
9. Why do we not have a chief executive? Why was a deputy appointed? Who is Paul Hunt deputy to?
10. What is Paul Hunt’s role at the club? What day to day decisions is he allowed to make without asking the family first?
11. Why does no member of the Rao family, who apparently own the club, hold a director role at Blackburn Rovers?
12. Who owns Ewood Park and the training ground, and is it mortgaged and if so why?
13. Who owns the land which Ewood Park and the training ground / centre of excellence is built upon?
14. Newspaper reports insist there was a bid for the club from a Qatari group. Is this true?
15. What is the club’s contingency plan should we get relegated? Do the owners even appreciate income will drop by c. £40m year on year and how do they plan to fill that hole if relegation happens?
16. Why have the club not made public the minutes of an interim meeting which took place on the 2nd November with supporters?
17. Why have the questions which were asked in this meeting not been answered?
18· Why did Venky’s agree to refund a few supporters who travelled to Pune independently during their exhibition tour, but not (to date) refund those fans?
19· Is it true that Crown Paints ceased to be club sponsors because Mrs Desai unilaterally ditched them, believing (wrongly) that a sponsor paying more money would be easy to obtain? And is it true that the Prince’s Trust deal was an 11th-hour face saver?
20· Why has the club been saying for five months that Junior Hoillet’s contract is as good as signed and still it appears no closer?
21· Why does Venky’s have no daily presence here in the UK involved in the day to day running of the club?
22· Why did the owners leave at half-time during the recent Wigan Athletic fixture?
23· Why was Steve Kean rewarded with a new contract, when our league position and his performance of just 6 wins in 34 games, which he had at the time of signing it, is one of the worst the league has ever witnessed?
24. When will the club accounts for 2010-11 be published?
25. Why have the club owners had no board meeting with the board since buying the club?
26. Why has there been no explanation about board and staff members leaving Ewood Park, including John Jensen?
27. Why has the club not looked at the poor PR which is coming out of the club and not looked to improve this?
28. Why is Vineeth Rao, who has no football experience, as good as running the club (according to reports)?
29. What are the owners’ plan for the January window in terms of play sales and purchases?
30. Why did the fans forum go to Pune and why was it advertised as the disgruntled section of supporters? What was the purpose of this trip? What was the result of the trip? Why has no acceptable feedback on the trip been reported either by the club or the fans forum?
31.Why has Venky’s taken out mortgages on future income and put none of their own wealth into the club?
32. If Jerome Anderson has no role, why was he at the meeting with Mr. Battersby and Mr. Curry on the last day of the Pune trip?
33. Why does the manager insist on saying a majority of supporters are fully behind him when all evidence suggests otherwise?
34. Why have the club planted seeds with statements that have brought violence to the stands at Ewood Park? For example the manager makes statements on a weekly basis asking non-protesting supporters to tell protestors not to protest. This is inciting the crowd and despite this being discussed on numerous occasions he still appears not to be being advised to do otherwise.
35· Why has our principle sponsor had to go public about his concerns and the club’s lack of communication?
36· What is the role of Steve Kean at Ewood Park, as the club have confirmed he does not communicate with them and answers directly to Pune? Why is Steve Kean not disclosing things to the board? Why does his role appear much more senior than any of the board at Ewood Park?
37· Why have all our accounts been removed from the UK and moved over to India?
38. Why does it appear that Blackburn Rovers are marketing Venky’s instead of Venky’s marketing Blackburn Rovers here in the UK?
39. Why is the club website so poorly run?
40. What plans are in place to open up a clear communication channel with supporters in the form of an action group democratically picked where things can be openly debated and discussed to allow concerns to be answered if and as they arise?
41. Can you arrange the meeting with Steve Kean as he has twice publicly said he will meet the disgruntled section of supporters?
42. Will Venky’s have a meeting here in Blackburn with some supporters who have been democratically picked?
43. Can you explain the roles of all new employees hired in the Venky’s era, i.e. Paul Hunt, Simon Hunt, and how the decision-making process works on a day-to-day basis at the club?
44. Why have these new employees not been publicly introduced / announced to fans, even via the website of programme, or given any TV or radio interviews about their roles? Most supporters would not know these people if they passed them in the street and know very little about their background or qualifications to hold such roles.
45. How big is the actual overdraft today and is it true Barclays want it to be reduced to zero by the end of the year/season?
46. Was the overdraft held by Venky’s London which is still secured against all Rovers’ physical assets discussed and has that also now got an accelerated repayment schedule?
47. Are the overdrafts financing other Venky’s group activities besides the Rovers?
48. If Venky’s cannot meet Barclays new repayment requirements, are they going to sell the club?
49. How many games has Kean been given before the axe swings again?
50. Is it true Kean and Samba are not talking to each other?
51. Are Hoilett and Robinson also likely to leave in January as well?
52. Why have players like Dann been bought on the drip, when we brought in more net income from sales this past transfer window?
53. Why was the club shirt changed from its traditional design?
54. Why do the club owners say the club is their baby, despite them spending little time at the club and not interacting with the club’s supporters or listening to supporters concerns?
55. Why do so many supporters concerns via email end with a generated email response?
56. Who is the point of contact for concerns and what is the time scale for answering concerns set out in the clubs customer service charter?
57. Can the club explain why season tickets have dropped significantly since the takeover and why hundreds of supporters with season tickets will no longer attend games despite their seats being paid for?
58. Because the club is being run from Pune I fear that the club is failing to react to emerging situations quickly enough. The executives at Rovers appear to have no autonomy or power whatsoever when it comes to making short-term decisions. Why?
59. Why are Rovers persisting with a manager who will relegate the club? Will the club come out with reasons why he is still in the job for us fans who find the decision completely insane?
60. There are concerns about the quality of coaching at the club. Players don’t look as fit as they should be, several players are suffering or have suffered from hamstring injuries at the same time (sometimes an indicator of poor fitness levels/coaching). The lack of clean sheets is also a major concern. Can you explain this?
61. There are major concerns about the transfer window in January. Rovers need investment in January but with the talk of the debts the club has, there are fears that the only way money will be spent is if key players are sold. The poor level of performance on the field also could have a major impact on the transfer front and attracting suitable players. Are the owners concerned about this?
62. If Rovers are relegated are Venky’s going to provide funds and make managerial decisions in order to try and get straight back up?
63. The majority of supporters will not be content until the supporters have dialogue with the owners. Why don’t the owners engage with the fans?
64. The owners, board and management have treated the supporters with contempt for more than 12 months. Customer satisfaction and customer service are non-existent. Respect is earned not demanded. Why do the owners not realise this?