my mate series on this blog.
I've known Ian for 11 years. He's a fellow Rovers fan and has season tickets close to where we used to sit in the Blackburn End upper tier. I fondly remember celebrating together when Rovers were promoted at Preston in 2001.
Until a couple of years ago he was in business with another friend of mine, Richard Hughes. Here's a profile I did on them back in 2005. The fact that the two of them have split was a source of some upset. I like them both very much and admire their dealmaking skills and their ablity to add value to businesses. It's not the time or the place to go into the reasons for the split here, but they were a formidable double act in their heyday and I'm proud to count them both as friends still.
Ian and Richard also grew a much coveted client base who they introduced to investment opportunities. It's a matter of public record that their wealthy backers included some old northern family trusts as well as footballers and entrepreneurial business people. Ian is also close to Sam Allardyce who is an active investor; I still kick myself that I royally cocked up a diary date to have lunch at Ian's house with Sam, he rang me as I was arriving in Chester, when I should have been in Lancashire. That link between the two dates back to when Ian was a director of Bolton Wanderers, a purely business arrangement that he enjoyed while it lasted. I imagine Phil Gartside, Bolton chairman, isn't the easiest guy to work with and eventually Ian left the board. We have enjoyed some sweet victories at the Reebok since.
Ian is also a great supporter of good causes (not just Rovers) and particularly of the Prince's Trust, the Royal Manchester Children's Hospital Charity Appeal and of the Lowry at Salford. We worked together on an event a couple of years ago with Theo Paphitis, another close friend of Ian - a report is here. We also played on opposing sides at the Reebok at this match in May.
By a remarkable coincidence there's tabloid speculation today suggesting Ian has been over to India and is about to be invited onto the board at Blackburn Rovers, something I suggested here back in February. This would be a very good move for Rovers, but I'm confident Ian and his pal Ian Battersby would require assurances that things are going to change and they won't be "yes men" to people who are taking our club down. I certainly hope so.