Friday, June 11, 2010

An open and welcoming message to Saurin Shah

Well hello!

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

Also, it's been said that you were there at the Arsenal game at the end of last season. Clearly you enjoyed it as much as we did. It was a great day and showed off Blackburn Rovers at our best. A strong and resolute team performance, securing a top ten finish. You will have witnessed great support from the fans. And you will have savoured a man of the match performance from our local hero David Dunn. You will have noticed that scruffy French kid in the wooly hat getting some award at half time, that was Steven N'Zonzi, the player of the year. Take all that in, because contained within all of it was what makes this club special.

It isn't always like this however. 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.

Be patient. Our local talisman 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 so is our player of the year, a young man plucked from obscurity.

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.

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.


Unknown said...

What a top letter to ant prospective owner. If he is comicng then we as supporters can do nothing about it as seen in Manchester and Liverpool but please Mr Shah if you are coming do not come and buy us as a little club that you can play with and change whenever you want. We are Blcackburn Rovers and long after you have been and gone we will still be Blackburn Rovers so think about the club as a big picture, you dont just get a fantastic stadium, top class training complex you also get a club rith 135yrs history, a club with supporters who have known thick and thin and who will tell you when you do well but will tell you more when you do wrong and as we sing " we are Rovers till we die"

Vinjay said...

Might be worth giving him a statue just for ridding the club of the current owners should he complete a takeover.

I hopes he plans many huge changes. This club needs to be shaken up from top to bottom. A lot of people at this club need to be kicked out of their comfort zone. A new global mentality not a parochial mentality is exactly what is needed.

If you aren't approving my posts please say so because I don't wish to waste my time posting if that is the case.

Michael Taylor said...

Thanks Vinjay, always delighted to take your contribution to this issue, this sounds quite promising doesn't it?
Don't agree with top to bottom clear out. Beware of what you wish for.

Mellison24 said...

Vinjay, I disagree. The Walkers don't want us, and that's fair enough. A 'shake-up' as you call it would have a 95% chance of RUINING our club! The board are a sensible bunch and must stay. John Williams must stay. All current staff must stay. The ONLY change should be ownership. My hope from the new owners is pretty modest tbh. If they could just invest maybe 5million pounds per season (or per window or whatever) that would do wonders. The only input owners should have into any football club is the financial side. Hiring and firing and budgetting etc etc should be left to Mr Williams and downwards. The marketting of the club should be left to our CURRENT marketing team (along with some input from the owners regarding tapping into the Indian market). Other than that, the owners should provide some extra change. As I said, just 5million pounds extra in the transfer window would do wonders for our club! And we need to keep our soul. For the sake of the fans, we need to preserve the legacy of the one fan who had the power to take us to the top, Uncle Jack.

Vinjay said...

Forget to add that I'm fed up with seeing Rovers being blamed for Robinson not getting picked. Its got nothing to do with the club he plays for. If Robinson hands in a transfer request I'll blame people who are putting false stuff like this into his head. I don't know Capello's reasons but it has nothing to do with BRFC.

I doubt Shah will read the marple leaf somehow and probably won't see this post. He probably isn't aware of who I am either so nothing personal.

Since he seems to have ambitions for Rovers to become the leading club in India I highly doubt he believes this "unfashionable" accusation being aimed at Rovers.

As for you Mellison why do you think the current marketing should be left to the current department? Its too parochial and regionally targeted. You probably saw Gallacher praise the current hierarchy today in the LET then he contradicted himself by noting the poor attempts to attract the Asian population to Ewood. That is because of bad marketing. Low season ticket prices is not superb marketing. It hardly takes a genius to work out that lower prices would sell more tickets. Personally I'll be happy to pay more with new owners than less with the current ones.

In 1998 by the way Williams stated in regards to worldwide fanbase aims "we are already a big club and we are going to get bigger." Where these his words or the words Jack Walker instructed him to say? Now all we hear is "punching above our weight" every 5 seconds which is nonsense. All this talk about worldwide fanbase in 1998 and now the club refuse to look anywhere beyond Blackburn such as the rest of Lancashire as a catchment area. Shah's wording suggests that he sees all of Lancashire as a catchment area hence his remarks about the Asian population in Lancashire. Not just Blackburn but Lancashire. This is the national thinking this club needs and globally he clearly intends to move this club forward in the Indian markets.

Be realistic. The only reason Williams has so much control over hiring and firing is because the current owners don't give a damn. They did I believe force the sacking of Ince in the end which is the only useful intervention they have made.

I don't believe Shah will be so hands off in his day to day running as the Walkers are. Unless of course he is limited to the time he spends in the country which is certainly a possibility. Jack Walker however was a great example of someone who could be hands on and in total control even if he was limited to his time in the UK for the tax exile reasons.

Anonymous said...

Nice blog post on Rovers and the Shah bid, good advice, very insightful, sensitive and not afraid to touch on the race issue. I agree with Theo, "What a top letter to a prospective owner!"

Dan Clough said...

Well said Michael.
It's very early doors yet and no one knows the nature of the bid, the consortium's wealth or their plans for the board.
I see Vinjay advocates wholesale changes from top to bottom while Mellison wants the opposite.
I'd like to think John Williams will maintain his position, he's an excellent chairman and has overseen a difficult period financially while maintaining our top flight status.
But surely any new owners, especially owners who have splashed millions of pounds on the club, will expect boardroom positions. I only hope they leve the general running of the club to those who have done it so well recently.
The next few weeks should be very interesting.