By Nick Harris
SJA Internet Sports Writer of the Year
14 June 2012
As a group of Blackburn fans return to Lancashire this evening after three days of meetings in London with MPs and the FA about the plight of their club, Sportingintelligence publishes a letter, in full below, sent last week by the same campaigners to Jerome Anderson, the agent of Rovers’ manager, Steve Kean.
The letter appeals to Anderson for help, seeking answers to 23 questions relating to why Blackburn has been run in the way it has since Venky’s took over.
Glen Mullan, the chair of the BRFC Action Group, writes in the letter: “You have consistently said in public that you have the best interests of Rovers and the fans at heart. If this indeed is true, then please help.”
The letters seeks clarity about the precise role that Anderson played at the club. Anderson has spoken about sleeping at the training ground as he worked on club business in January 2011.
Anderson has consistently and strenuously insisted that he has had no hands-on role at Blackburn whatsoever since the end of the January 2011 transfer window.
Mullan explains in the letter that the fans are frustrated at a lack of answers from anyone connected with the club, hence the appeal to Anderson. No response has been forthcoming yet.
On Wednesday, the Action Group met in Westminster with lifelong Rovers fan and local MP, Jack Straw, as well as with two other local MPs, Graham Jones and Jake Berry.
The group then attended at a private 45-minute meeting with sports minister Hugh Robertson, who listened to their concerns about what’s happened to Rovers.
It is understood the fans passed over hundreds of pages of paperwork outlining their concerns, and asked if Robertson could investigate whether better football governance might have prevented the mess at Ewood Park.
It is understood that the group, together with the MPs, will prepare a specific list of questions about the ownership of the club, the influence upon the decision-making processes by external parties at different points, and how certain contracts were drawn up.
Robertson is believed to have promised that he will seek answers from the relevant authorities on these matters.
The fans had already had a private meeting with Premier League chief executive Richard Scudamore. Today they met at Wembley with senior FA officials who work on compliance issues at the governing body.
Mullan told Sportingintelligence this evening: “We’re ecstatic simply to have had these meetings to state our concerns to people who have real power to help us find answers.
“To be able to go to Parliament and be given a platform to talk shows us that there are people willing to listen. We’ve handed over all kinds of information, and if the MPs, the FA, the Premier League or a combination of all of them can use their resources and expertise to help us find some answers, it will have been worth it.
“We’re just seeking honest answers to basic questions about our own football club. What we’re really pleased about this week is that people with clout are now putting their weight behind our cause.”
Aside from on-pitch failings that led to Rovers’ relegation, the fans’ major concerns revolve around where the power at Rovers really lies; why senior executives are apparently impotent in key decisions at the club; why Kean remains manager despite results over 18 months worse than many peers who’ve been fired while doing better; whether the authorities have any ongoing concerns over the way transfers have been conducted; and what if any concerns those authorities have had in the past 18 months.
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Letter from Blackburn Rovers FC Action Group to Jerome Anderson, 6 June 2012
Dear Mr Anderson,
I’m writing to you today in the hope that you may be able to help Blackburn fans understand what is going on at our club.
Nobody with any connection or affection for the club can fail to see that something has gone very badly wrong at Rovers since Venky’s took over, although the exact reasons remain unclear.
We as fans have asked the club questions – no reply. We have asked the owners – no reply. We have asked for meetings with officials and with the manager – these meetings were promised and never happened.
We have asked everyone we can possibly think of for help in finding answers to basic questions about what has happened at Rovers in the past 18 months – and why.
It is in this spirit, of wanting simple, straight, honest information, which we appeal for your assistance in answering some questions for us. We ask you for several reasons, namely –
- you are somebody who has acknowledged yourself that you were ‘inside’ Rovers for a least a short while, which is more than most of us.
- you are agent of the manager, Steve Kean, who at times seems to the only person who knows what Mrs Desai is thinking, and we think it a reasonable assumption that therefore you will know much of what Steve Kean knows.
- you have consistently said in public that you have the best interests of Rovers and the fans at heart. If this indeed is true, then please help us by answering the following questions.
Questions for Mr Anderson, the answers to which the fans of Blackburn feel will give us a much clearer picture of what has happened to our football club.
1: Could you clarify how you first got involved in the sale of Blackburn? Specifically –
a: Who hired you to help find a buyer, and when, and who if anybody paid you a commission fee for the introduction?
b: When did you first meet anyone from Venky’s and / or the Rao family in person?
c: Did you or SEM or Kentaro have any previous business ties to Venky’s before the Blackburn takeover?
2: What role did you play in the hiring of Steve Kean as Blackburn’s manager? Specifically –
a: Did you ever advise Venky’s that Sam Allardyce should be relieved of his job?
b: When did Steve Kean first meeting anyone from Venky’s, and Mrs Desai specifically?
c: Did you draw up, oversee or have any role in the preparation of Steve Kean’s management contract while you were working for Venky’s?
3: Steve Kean was arrested for drinking driving in May 2011 – and later convicted. Kean’s belief was fans spiked his drink, a view that alienated many supporters. News of Kean’s arrest was first widely reported on 17 May 2011, exactly the same day that The Sun ran a big story about Gael Givet and alleged irregular payments made to a contact of Sam Allardyce’s around Givet’s transfer.
a: Did you have any prior knowledge that The Sun were going to run this story on Allardyce?
b: And as the agent of the incumbent manager at the time, did The Sun ask for your opinion of one or both stories – Steve Kean’s arrest and the Givet story?
NB: the point of asking you this question is to ascertain how much media negativity is media-driven for lurid stories, and how much is genuine public interest stories. As someone highly experienced in dealing with media, we welcome your insight.
4: It has been reported, and confirmed, that the Premier League vetoed – at least initially – the move of Mauro Formica to Blackburn because of a ‘third party ownership’ issue around the player. You yourself have spoken about working tirelessly for Rovers through the January 2011 transfer window in which Formica eventually moved, so:
a: What exactly was the third party issue with Formica?
b: Who owned him, if it wasn’t Newell’s Old Boys, when the deal was first proposed?
c: How many transfer deals, incoming to Blackburn or outgoing from Rovers, were you personally involved with during the January 2011 window?
d: What was your specific involvement in those deals and were you paid regular agents’ fees? Or flat commissions for helping Venky’s? Or nothing because you just wanted to assist them?
e: A leaked letter from John Williams et al written in January 2011 suggested the ‘old board’ were not happy with mandates being given to you / SEM during that period. Were you aware of their concerns?
f: It has been reported an associate of yours was paid a large agent’s fee when Rochina moved and the agent in question has confirmed you worked together on that deal. Did you receive money from that deal?
g: If Formica’s deal was stopped because of third party involvement, was there originally a plan to bring other players in with third party ownership?
h: Are you aware of the Premier League preventing any other transfer deals in or out of Blackburn, after the Formica deal?
i: It is widely believed that Steve Kean has had only marginal involvement in Rovers transfer deals and Venky’s have been using a variety of inexperienced advisors and unconventional methods to get players since January 2011. Can you confirm what you know about this? And why has Steve Kean never gone public about this apparent lack of influence?
5: Do you or Steve Kean have any share in Rovers or options to have any shares in Rovers, or own any shares in any Venky’s company or subsidiary, or any agreement that gives you an option on any such shares, now or in the future?
6: In your interview on Sky in January, you said you’d had no business dealings with Venky’s since January 2011 but reports from fans claim you attended a meeting in Pune in October 2011 between Ian Battersby and Ian Currie, and Mrs Desai. Is that true? If so, what was the purpose and outcome of that meeting?
7: In your Sky interview you suggested that the protests were ‘too well organised’ and ‘darker forces’ were at work. Could you specify what you meant? We as fans want the best for our club. You have said you want the best for your club. We appeal to you for openness and transparency on what you meant so we can all tackle any ‘darker forces’ together.
8: Your solicitors issued a legal notice to me, asking for me not to discuss you in forthcoming BRFC Action Group activities. This was surprising considering you have refused to answer any prior communication or invitation we have sent you to discuss our club. Once again, in the spirit of all of use trying to do the best for Blackburn, can we arrange to meet please?
9: Steve Kean and Venky’s have both had legal letters from Sam Allardyce’s lawyers in relation to the video of Steve Kean filmed in Hong Kong. What is Steve Kean’s stance on what he said in that video?
10: Do you feel Venky’s have been good custodians of Rovers?
BRFC Action Group Chairperson