By Nick Harris
SJA Internet Sports Writer of the Year
28 September 2012
Steve Kean earned a ‘stay of execution’ at Blackburn Rovers after his wife Margaret called the club’s co-owner Anuradha Desai to say she believed sacking him would be unfair, sources in India and England have told Sportingintelligence.
Insiders say the decision was taken to sack Kean last weekend and plans for his dismissal were so advanced that a press release confirming the news was in circulation at Ewood Park on Monday morning, signed off by Venky’s and ready to be posted on the club website.
But in an 11th-hour intervention, sources say, Mrs Desai took at least one call from Mrs Kean to protest at what was then believed to be an imminent departure.
It is not known whether Kean himself and / or Kean’s agent, Jerome Anderson, also spoke to Mrs Desai but the sacking did not go ahead as planned and the press release was not issued.
Rumours persist that Kean will be leaving the club anyway in the next few weeks – but nobody at the club or in India will confirm this, leading to fresh confusion and anger among fans. Rumours that compensation remains the only sticking point cannot be confirmed.
This is not the first time that Kean has apparently been on the brink only to be spared by Mrs Desai. To Sportingintelligence’s knowledge, he has been close to the sack at least three previous times only to argue successfully he should stay – or have unconfirmed other parties make that case on his behalf.
Sportingintelligence called Mrs Desai at her family home in Pune, India, this morning to ask about Kean’s situation. A secretary said she would return the call but this has not happened at the time of writing.
Kean said earlier today he had held ‘positive and constructive’ talks with the owners.
On Tuesday, Venky’s ‘global advisor’ Shebby Singh, said he had ‘no comment’ to make about Kean’s long-term future but that Kean would remain in charge for this weekend’s match against Charlton.
Singh has declined to comment further.
Blackburn director Paul Agnew said earlier this week that he had no knowledge that Kean was about to be sacked.
Anderson has not responded to messages. Rovers MD Derek Shaw is away today and unavailable for comment.
Blackburn were relegated from the Premier League under Kean last season and are currently third in the Championship with 14 points from seven games.
Crowds at Ewood Park have plunged this season, raising concerns over the club’s income streams. Blackburn have no shirt sponsor and a fractured relationship with other sponsors and local businesses.
Singh took day-to-day control of the club as the owners’ hands-on representative in England over the summer. He is understood to favour a change of manager, as do both Mrs Desai’s brothers and co-owners, Balaji and Venky.
The brothers, along with virutally all senior club and Venky’s insiders, have urged managerial change on multiple occasions during the past 14 months but Mrs Desai has always overruled them to keep Kean in place.
Mrs Desai is known to want to improve relations with fans groups. Via Shebby Singh she has told one supporters’ group that if they nominate three Rovers fans who need ‘life-changing medical treatment’, then Venky’s will arrange and pay for such treatment.
What many fans would rather see is a new manager and a fresh start but it remains unclear when such change might happen.