Thursday, August 05, 2010

What would Jack Walker have wanted? - an open letter to Ahsan Ali Syed

In June I wrote an open and welcoming letter to Saurin Shah, one of the supposed bidders for Blackburn Rovers. Takeover talk is in the air again. This time the bidder is being touted as Ahsan Ali Syed. His investment business confirmed their interest to Insider today. I have a natural suspicion of anyone who blabs before a takeover is complete. And I still have the lingering fear of the Portsmouth scenario.

Here's an open letter to anyone else sniffing round.

Good luck in your efforts to buy our wonderful football club! I just wanted to mention a few things that might not pop up in your commercial due diligence.

Our fans are the future of this club. Their loyal support has kept this club in a special place. To make it work for you, you need to engage with them and help that support grow even more.

They are frustrated at the moment because there haven't been any new signings. The manager is frustrated too. But make sure we sign the right players.

Be patient. Our local talisman, David Dunn, is an injury prone genius. Our goalkeeper was a reject who was written off but has missed out on the World Cup because he plays for an unfashionable club. But they are stars. Our stars. So is our centre half - a teenager from Chorley. They are adored. And Steven N'Zonzi, our player of the year, is a young man plucked from obscurity, who has just signed a new contract.

Our fans are usually right. When Jack Walker owned the club he didn't like a certain type of flash player and blocked some transfers. There are players who just aren't Rovers players, learn about that and treasure it as a core value. El Hadji Diouf should have no place in our club.

The season can seem long and a grind. When we lose at Everton, Man City and Stoke it tests your faith. You will look at these wealthy players who don't seem to be able to perform and despair. But you have to stick with it. Form can dip, the manager can seem negative and grumpy, but at heart he's a good man. He has a good scouting network, he finds gems, like our player of the year. Don't get your head turned by younger managers with fancy methods, something good is building at Rovers. The Academy at Brockhall is a treasure trove. Extend it. Make it the place the best kids want to come to. That's the place where investment is needed.

Blackburn is a multi-racial town, but Rovers supporters are mainly white working class men. This has changed a bit over the years, but don't expect to see much of an affinity with the local Asian population without a long hard effort to win hearts and minds and don't expect them flocking overnight. The current marketing and management team have been focused on shoring up what we have, but with your help greater links with India, with Asian communities and with other sports can expand Rovers as a brand.

You will have seen other owners of football clubs in the Premier League see their dreams shattered because they splash the money and lose it. Rovers have a heart and soul and a family spirit that is very much in touch with the roots of East Lancashire life. But it is just one aspect of our community. Build on that, extend deeper into that, and build the links with your own heritage - it could well yield commercial rewards and enable this club to move further forward.

Be realistic about what that could be. Be modest, be strong, value quality and there is a good chance that in the future there could be a statue of you next to the one of Uncle Jack.


Anonymous said...

This is a brillant letter, Michael. Well done. I hope Mr. Syed indeed reads this and is fully cognizant of the awesome possibilities Rovers presents him!

Again, well done and cheers to you.

Oscar said...

Compelling read Michael. I totally agree with what you say. I'm sceptical but excited about Rovers' takeover.

With me being a Blackburn Rovers fan like you, I have strong views and feelings with wanting what's best for the club. If Ahasan Ali Syed delivers what he promises with a £300million investment, it could be the next best thing since Uncle Jack.

I've written on my blog about Rovers' ownership. Could you read and comment it? It'd be much appreciated :D - that's the link!

Anonymous said...

good letter, im a asain living in blackburn and even though i support blackburn there isnt the trive of football in the asain communites. So hopefully that would all change!