Writer: Mikey Delap
Date:Friday January 20 2012
Below is a statement issued by Graham Jones who is a life long Blackburn Rovers fan and a member of Parliament.
Graham is backing the actions of the BRFC Action Group and has decided that now is the time to voice his own concerns in a passionate statement which addresses the plight the club is taking, the actions of agent Jerome Anderson and the behaviour of Steve Kean and Venky's in forming a recent smear campaign against disgruntled fans.
Here it is in full...
I am proud to be a Blackburn Rovers fan and a season ticket holder. I have been going regularly since 1978. Rovers proud 137 year history and status as founding member of the Football League is a corner stone in the history of British and world football.
Over the last fourteen months that proud 136 year history has received little respect.
The sale of the club by the Jack Walker Trust in November 2010 to the Indian Company 'Venky's` has been followed by a series of damaging headlines, shock resignations, instability and regression of the clubs fortunes on and off the field. More recently elements within and connected to the club have engaged in a damaging PR campaign that has been confrontational and baseless.
Serious questions now have to be asked about the ability of the owners to manage an EPL club; their awareness of Premier League rules and company law; their future intentions for the club; whether foreign business practices bring the club into disrepute; whether such practices should be prohibited within the framework of the FAPL`s 'fit and proper` persons test.
Notably of grave concern is an admission by an agent that he has been involved in decision making within the club; that this has allegedly involved instructions to club Directors to make payments to third parties; that the manager whom has been given overall responsibility over all affairs at the club on and off the field, (and above the board) and is connected to such agent has a conflict of interest; that EPL regulations should extend beyond English company law to prohibit such practice?
These decisions have led to the resignation of very experienced and highly regarded administrators and risk the club`s ability to manage to its affairs. Recent accounts have resulted in a further destabilisation of the club with newspaper reports claiming that that the club`s bank, Barclays had initiated steps to protect its liabilities. Recent club accounts detail losses accrued up to June 2011 at £18.6 million, up from a loss of just £1m the year previous. The value of the club whilst in the EPL is approximately £23m.
During this period fees paid to agents has risen approximately three fold. The £475,000 transfer of Ruben Rochina carried an additional agents payment of £1.65million. Despite an alleged defensive injury crises, out of contract 28 year old Brazilian Bruno Riberio (described by the manager as the next Denis Irwin) with no caps and little top flight Brazilian experience was given a three year contract and has yet to make a single appearance in the team or on the bench.
Neither Blackburn, Blackburn Rovers FC or the wider interests within the English game are served by a 'smear campaign` and media attacks from within the game and within the club aimed at ordinary Blackburn Rovers fans who seek only constructive dialogue with the club on these matters. There has to my knowledge been no arrests or public disorder during these protests which have always been conducted with the full consent of the police and dialogue with the club. These protests were suspended for seven matches to facilitate positive discussions. These have not taken place. Three arranged meetings between the manager and organisers have been cancelled by the manager or the club (whose authority lies with the manager).
It is important that in the best interests of the club a dialogue is entered into; that any attempts to smear fans without justification - for which there has been none so far - are refuted in the strongest of terms.
Graham Jones, Member of Parliament.
Date:Friday January 20 2012
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