By Nick Harris
SJA Internet Sports Writer of the Year
24 February 2012
Blackburn Rovers have agreed to sell centre-half Chris Samba to one of Russia’s richest clubs, Anzhi Makhachkala, for an initial fee of £9m that will rise to £11m with ‘achievable’ add-ons, sources have confirmed to Sportingintelligence.
The sale of the 27-year-old Congolese defender ends immediate fears of a financial crisis at Rovers as the income from the deal will be deposited with Barclays Bank, who demanded £10m in December to ease cash-flow problems but have only received £2.5m of that sum since.
Stories containing a recent history of the Blackburn crisis
Without Samba’s sale, the club’s owners, Venky’s, headed by matriarch Anuradha Desai, would need to inject fresh cash into the club to meet a shortfall estimated in December at up to £10m between then and the summer. That shortfall became smaller when the club offloaded some players in January, and reduced further when the £2.5m was paid.
So the immediate £9m from Anzhi more than covers Rovers finance shortfall until the summer, and with the add-on cash will leave some spare money for reinvestment. Rovers will now also be able to make good on payments to Dundee United for the summer buy of David Goodwillie.
They had been late making one six-figure payment although a source says it was a ‘technical issue’ not a funding problem, per se. A Rovers statement on Friday afternoon says the money was paid on Monday.
As and when Samba’s departure is rubber-stamped, Rovers will also be saving in the region of £3m a year on his salary.
Most importantly of all, however, Rovers must first try to retain their Premier League status. If they get relegated, a fresh set of financial concerns will arise.
In a separate development, Sportingintelligence has been told by a well-placed source in India that Mrs Desai has ‘no intention’ of selling the club to a fans’ consortium who went public with their bid plans this week.
The stated aim of the Blackburn Rovers Supporters Investment Trust “is to take ownership of Blackburn Rovers for the sole benefit of the club, the supporters and the community now and for the future.”
The Trust is the brainchild of Wayne Wild, director of Darwen-based WEC Limited, a commercial partner and sponsor of Blackburn Rovers since 2008. Supporters of the Trust include local MPs Jack Straw, Jake Berry and Graham Jones; Kate Holhern, Leader of Blackburn with Darwen Council and Sir Bill Taylor. The group has a website at www.brsit.co.uk.
Wild said: “At some point, and maybe soon, we believe Blackburn Rovers will be put up for sale. We believe the best ownership model for Blackburn Rovers is to be entirely owned by the supporters through a trust. We are seeking to engage with the current owners to advise them of our plans and we ask that they consider our proposals seriously as a credible and respectful way to pass on ownership of the club.”
Sportingintelligenceknows for a fact that Mrs Desai has seen a proposed takeover proposal. But a source in Pune insisted today: “She has received it, but does not have any plans to sell the club.”
Blackburn, currently just outside the relegation zone on goal difference, play at Manchester City on Saturday.
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