Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Commercial chaos - the Venky's and Rovers

When Crown Paints ended their sponsorship of Blackburn Rovers, the efforts that went into finding a new shirt sponsor were laughable. The club ended up donating the sponsorship to a charity - a very good charity as it happens - but it was yet another example of a lack of direction under Venky's.

Commercially, Rovers start from a low base. With cheap seat prices, income from the box office is low and sponsorship options look even more limited. As this excellent piece on The Swiss Ramble points out the trick Rovers have to play, year in year out, is through player trading. Selling players on at a profit. That needs infrastructure and football people who know what they're doing. Sadly, Tom Finn and John Williams have gone. Venky's are now advised by an agent who thinks it's a good idea to go on TalkSport and brag about a deal where the selling club, Barcelona, were fleeced when Rovers signed Ruben Rochina. Nice one Jerome.

So, given that the club only has one main sponsor these days - what efforts do you think the owners have made to keep that company, WEC, onside?

I'll tell you. Nothing.

Here's Wayne Wild, one of the directors, speaking out in the Lancashire Telegraph this week.

"Blackburn Rovers Football Club is the heart and soul of the town. It has been for ever and certainly since they were in the Premier League. It creates employment for the town, the indirect business of people travelling to the games, and the sponsorship. I just feel if I can’t get a reply - as the only paying corporate sponsor - that underlines the frustrations that general supporters are having, because there is no direct contact. We do not feel valued. As well as the business side I have offered to mediate between the fans and the owners. I feel there is a growing gap between the two. Maybe if they could talk to me, I could relay that message to the fans."

I've met Wayne a few times and I really rate him. I'd go so far as to say he's just the type of forward thinking but feet on the ground business person they ought to have on the board. Obviously the Rao family have their own people as directors and they've made overtures to another couple of good lads - Ian Currie and Ian Battersby, even flying them over to India. But ask yourself, seriously, would you want to be a bridge to these people? I know I wouldn't.

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