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The ideal model is for a club to have a first team that is successful and a regular supply of players to come in and replace them.

 

That was how Rovers were set up when Jack Walker put in his dough - at both levels.

 

Of late you have had to live hand to mouth with less money and rely on sales.

 

That could not go on.

 

Fair play to Sam Allardyce for being the best possible manager to keep the team safe on such a low budget.

 

However the new owners and their advisers clearly have a different game plan. They want a return to a plan of a strong first team and new, young players coming in who can be used and/or sold at a profit.

 

I cannot see a problem with that. We are not talking about a hit-and-run job here. You HAVE to be successful for this to work.

 

The main trouble is trying to implement something like that mid-season. But that's football for you.

 

I will say again - what would have happened if the club had NOT been bought. You would have a manager [who was looking for the exit door in the summer remember] trying to juggle sand again and needing THREE players without a penny to spend.

 

THAT is when Phil Jones would have been sold...and imagine the scenario now if you couldn't even sell him because he was injured.

 

It doesn't bear thinking about. If you want to scare yourselves think of that situation.

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Intresting to hear Kean today say that he will discuss the list with Martin Glover. A name which will be very high up on Glovers list will be Erik Huseklepp. Pedersens international baby-face teammate who can play anywhere accross the front line and especially the Right wing. Glover saw Erik Huseklepp score 2 on the night V France and has gone from strength to strength..

 

..he is a bit of a late developer but is a very cool & confidente silky player.. hes coming to the end of his contract and a lot of German clubs are after him..

 

..heard Sam was very close to signing him but the Walkers never came through and Roberts couldnt be sold... Glover also wanted Kevin Constant and look what happenend their.. Ac Milan have come in for him 6 months later.. Valencia & Constant are ones which Fell from the grasp.

 

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I think Samba will stay...because nobody wants him at [a] his cost and his daft wages.

 

The clubs with money - the ones in the Champions League teams - will not fancy him because he is not great on the ball.

 

The mid-range clubs will not pay the package.

 

So, Big Lad, clear your head and get on with doing what you do.

 

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Kean: Our future starts now at Blackburn Rovers

8:40am Friday 24th December 2010

 

BLACKBURN Rovers boss Steve Kean has heralded a new Ewood Park era – after insisting ‘our future has to start now’.

 

The 43-year-old Scot returned from a whirlwind trip to meet the owners in India determined to end all the uncertainty and believes it is time to draw a line under a chaotic past fortnight.

 

Ahead of Boxing Day’s visit of Stoke City, Kean admits he will be seeking talks with wantaway skipper Chris Samba after his public outburst but insists the defender has been asking to leave for a year anyway.

 

He is hopeful Venky’s vision can persuade Samba to stay but insists if he does not want to be a part of the new regime, along with anyone else, the club would listen to realistic offers.

 

Kean also told Rovers’ unsettled squad yesterday that there would be money to strengthen this January, no one had to be sold and that a top 10 finish was this season’s target.

 

He said: “This is a new era. We have new owners, it is going to be an exciting time for the club. The owners have been disappointed and a little bit confused about the reaction from the press but I have told them that is through a decision and the way it has been made that is probably to be expected.

 

“Now we have to get as much information as we can. I have told them if it makes it easier for them I will come over every month. As long as we can get the information and can build up a relationship and can take the club forward.

 

“They want to finish in the top half. They have difficulty in getting information across and hopefully we can help the owners get that across. It is going to be a layered approach and we are going to move on gradually. I am really confident we have a really exciting and positive time ahead for the club. I am convinced we will finish around the top 10 at least.

 

“It was a positive meeting not a negative one. It was let’s move forward and get everyone together.”

 

Several senior players, Samba being the latest, have spoken out about the shock sacking of Sam Allardyce but Kean believes his Indian meeting and their plans for the future can put the past behind them.

 

He said: “There is going to be investment in the transfer window. The players were worried we were going to have to sell players but I can tell them we don’t have to sell anyone.

 

“The chair lady wanted to draw a line under having to sell the young talent. We know there has been interest in Phil Jones but she doesn’t want to sell any of them and in fact was interested in buying more young talent to join them and let them all develop.

 

“There was not a figure put on the budget. She wanted to give us scope to come back with various figures. Probably in the next three or four days and then we will have a better idea of what sort of money we need.

 

“There has been no cap put on it. We will go out and try and get value for money. I think we need at least three players to come to the club.”

 

He was also quick to point out that Samba had not handed in a transfer request, despite his quit threat on Wednesday, but that there were long-standing issues that needed to be addressed with the defender.

 

“I spoke with Chris Samba’s agent and he said he has been asking to leave the club for a year now,” said Kean “We will have to talk with Chris about that.

 

“I want to persuade him to stay. He is the first person who has asked to leave but it is not a new request. If he has decided he wants to move we would listen to any realistic offer because he is a big asset to the club.

 

“It is disappointing. I will speak to him and say if you want to have a plan to leave the club there is a proper way to do it. The back of the newspapers is not that.

 

“I don’t think I have any convincing to do. What the players were after was information. That was the main reason why I went to India. There is convincing of the players needed on my part.”

 

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Kean to strengthen squad

Posted on: Fri 24 Dec 2010

 

Manager Steve Kean expects Blackburn Rovers to be active participants when the January transfer window opens next week.

 

Wednesday saw the Rovers boss return from meeting club owners in India, with the message that funds are available for the squad to be strengthened.

 

And after being given the green light to spend, Kean will act fast in shortlisting targets.

 

"The owners said that if I want to sit with the scouting department in the next day or two, put together our list and get back to them, then hopefully we can bring in a few players to help the squad," said Kean.

 

"To strengthen the areas that we are a little bit weak at the moment.

 

"It is going to be new and exciting, it is the first time for a long time that money is going to be invested to help the squad to improve and climb up the table and finish the season as strong as we can.

 

"Then in addition there are certain players that hopefully will be coming through from that young development group together with a few senior pros that will be coming back from long term injuries, so if we can add more than one or two then it will be an exciting time."

 

Whilst admitting that January is never the best time to buy, Kean knows he has to due to the current injury situation.

 

"It isn't an ideal time, you'd always prefer to do your deals in the summer, but needs must.

 

 

"We've a few injuries and we really need to address them. There are areas in the pitch that we need to improve, but we aren't going to replace anybody, it is to help the areas of the pitch where we are weak.

 

"Then when everyone is back we'll have them all fighting for positions which can only be encouraging the club.

 

"I think we'd be looking for at least three players to becoming in, at least three to strengthen us."

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The Bollywood billionaires of Blackburn: The Indian family who could bring back the good times at Rovers

By Nick Harris Last updated at 10:13 PM on 15th January 2011

 

It was the question that infamously stumped Sven Goran Eriksson when he arrived as England manager all those years ago.

 

But Anuradha Desai, the Indian businesswoman who heads the conglomerate behind the takeover of Blackburn Rovers, answers it effortlessly.

 

'Gael Givet,' she says, when asked if she can identify the Blackburn left-back.

 

Just for good measure, she throws in the name of their centre-half - the much-coveted Chris Samba - as well, adding that he is a player she desperately wants Rovers to retain.

 

Back in October 2000, Eriksson found just one name - Michael Gray's - impossible to conjure when his appointment as England manager was met with the question: 'Who is the Sunderland left-back?'

 

The woman who heads the VH Group, the first Indian company to buy a Premier League football club, is not about to be caught out like that.

 

Desai, chair of the family firm who own Rovers via a subsidiary, Venky's London Ltd, displays a forensic knowledge of her latest acquisition.

 

The details of pretty much every Blackburn footballer, the names of their agents, their contract lengths and terms are at her fingertips.

 

The Venky's buy-out of Rovers - they paid the Jack Walker Trust £23million for the club and are believed to have taken on £20m of debt - raised the hopes of Rovers fans that the good times are coming back to the old textile town.

 

Blackburn were Premier League champions in 1995, thanks to Walker's riches.

 

Since those heady days, Rovers have never finished better than sixth and the title has been the preserve of just three clubs, Manchester United, Arsenal and Chelsea - all now under wealthy foreign control.

 

Four years after winning the Premier League, Blackburn suffered the ignominy of relegation and spent two seasons in the Championship.

 

Since returning to the top flight, they have been perennial also-rans.

 

But all that could change, at least if the dreams of the club's rich and ambitious new owners come to fruition.

 

The VH Group are a poultry conglomerate owned by the Rao family and based in Pune, 70 miles south-east of Mumbai.

 

The Raos themselves expect success in the long term, whatever the sceptics say.

 

'Our goals are simple,' says Venkatesh Rao, 45, who co-owns the VH Group with brother Balaji, 38, and sister Anuradha.

 

'We want to keep the fans happy and make the club better.

 

'As and when required, we will invest, in a responsible way, but let me be clear: money will not be a problem. I am not going to promise specific figures but if we need to spend £5m on something, we'll spend it. If we need £10m, £15m, £20m, we'll do it. We won't compromise on quality. We are prepared to spend a lot over time.'

 

Describing Venky's owners as chicken farmers is like saying Walker had a scrap metal yard.

 

Walker, a steel magnate, was one of Britain's richest 30 men when he died in 2000, with a fortune estimated at £600m.

 

The Rao family are worth three times more and their business is riding the crest of the Indian economic boom.

 

The VH group consists of 28 companies with a collective turnover in 2010 of close to £1billion and group profits of about £100m.

 

Growth is forecast at 15 per cent per year. There are no external partners and no debt.

 

Acquisitions, including Blackburn Rovers and a new £130m vaccine plant in Switzerland, are made in cash.

 

The company are not listed but could fetch about £1.5bn if sold, although that is not on the cards.

 

With an extensive property portfolio, the family are probably worth £2bn, perhaps more.

 

Demonstrably they have money to invest where they see fit.

 

'Four-wheelers are my only extravagance,' says Venkatesh, or Venky to friends, slightly abashed at his admission as we talk in the family's marbled, high-security bungalow complex in the hills above Pune.

 

There are five top-end cars in the courtyard outside.

 

There are 69 others on the driveway and in the garage. Venky has 'only' 23 motors.

 

Balaji, pony-tailed, open-shirted and adorned with golden jewellery and a holstered pistol - imported, licensed and loaded - boasts 51 vehicles, including a Rolls-Royce, a Bentley and a new customised £100,000 Hummer.

 

The wealth comes from an empire founded in 1971 by the siblings' late father, Dr BV Rao, a visionary vet and philanthropist who turned one hatchery into a business that now breeds chickens, sells vaccines, machinery, processed food, dietary supplements, fast food and much else, and is expanding rapidly, across Asia, Europe, South America and the Middle East.

 

The family may be anonymous outside India but their profile at home is such that Belaji employs two bodyguards and Venky never travels with fewer than four.

 

They employ 250,000 people directly and the same again in related businesses.

 

They produce 90 per cent of the chickens raised in a country of 1.2billion people.

 

Unusually for Indian billionaires, they have no affiliation to any one political group.

 

The family have a film company, Bala Entertainments, run by Balaji, the 'bling' member of the family with Bollywood and Hollywood connections.

 

He is a friend of friends of Ronaldinho, hence the personal approach, which ultimately failed, to sign the Brazil forward for Rovers.

 

Balaji is also acquainted with former world heavyweight boxing champion Lennox Lewis and the US-based multi-Grammy nominated rapper, Akon.

 

Both men attended a recent opening of a new Venky's XPRS fast food chicken shop.

 

Forty new branches of the chain will open in India this year, and at least one some time soon at Rovers' Ewood Park ground. So why did the family buy a football club? And why Blackburn? Mrs Desai takes up the story.

 

'It was Balaji,' she says. 'He's really crazy about football and he started looking about a year ago, initially for a regional Pune club, though it was clear they were only small.

 

'We have friends at Kentaro, the sports agency, and they suggested we looked in England.'

 

Venky Rao dismisses suggestions that Kentaro and Jermone Anderson's SEM management group are calling the shots at Rovers.

 

'They have been helpful and have given advice,' he says. 'But they are only two of many. If you're going to do something, get the best, and the Premier League is the best.'

 

Desai adds: 'We were offered a Championship club but it wasn't wholly for sale and then Blackburn came up in August and very quickly we realised it was right for us.'

 

They have come in for criticism since their takeover. The sacking of manager Sam Allardyce upset some in the game and the owners have been accused of being ignorant about football and naive in handing the managerial reins to rookie Steve Kean.

 

But Desai says: 'We can handle criticism. We're used to dealing with a whole nation of farmers. Many are happy with our products but always some are not happy. We try to improve. We get on with things.'

 

Balaji, whose passion for football is fuelled by his 16-year-old son's participation at regional level, will oversee the building in the next two years of a state-of-the-art football academy in Pune, to be developed with the aim of nurturing local players, one of whom may end up in England one day.

 

'God willing,' adds Venky. Where football is concerned, he is a self-confessed novice.

 

'We're learning and we'll continue to learn,' he says. 'A person only learns to swim by falling in the water often.'

 

Despite a busy schedule, he plans to travel to England at least once a month. Contrary to some perceptions, Venky's have long had commercial links to sport.

 

The firm sponsored regional cricket for decades and had a shirt deal with Trinidad & Tobago in cricket's inaugural Champions League Twenty20 cricket in 2009.

 

They have sponsored Russian tennis player Elena Dementieva and football friendlies featuring India, whose captain Baichung Bhutia, 34, played briefly for Bury a decade ago.

 

The Australian fast bowler Brett Lee is a Venky's brand ambassador.

 

'Interest in football in India is really picking up,' says Venky.

 

'In the next five years it'll go boom, boom in expansion and become massive. I really believe football can rival cricket here.'

 

The Venky's-Blackburn story is also a global economics story, a symbol of an emerging, expanding financial power and of the Premier League's attraction as a place for investment.

 

Yet in one sense, the Raos are almost a throwback to an era where family firms ran England's clubs.

 

Except that this family firm are based close to 5,000 miles away.

 

That said, in colonial times, Pune was known as 'the Oxford of the East' - because of the number and quality of its colleges - and it retains the nickname and the universities.

 

Locals insist it is a laid-back place where the working day typically starts at 10am and includes a three-hour siesta.

 

To outsiders, though, it is as sleepy as a riot.

 

Pune is a sprawl of 3.5million people, chaotic traffic, tooting mopeds carrying husbands and side-saddle wives, building sites making homes for a surging middle class, billboards selling these dream apartments, mobile phone stores and malls.

 

Slums, street markets and the desperately poor co-exist but India is changing daily. Pune reflects a nation's growth, and the Raos are new Indians, looking outwards, going global, proud of their hard-earned cash and the chances it gives them.

 

Their philanthropy includes free hospitals, schools and daily food handouts for Pune's poor.

 

The relevance of the Venky's vitamin plant in the hills, which sells £10m worth of products a year, or the two vaccine units turning over £21m between them, or 159 other major sites across the country each booming and surrounded by prime land, is that chicken feed could be anything but chicken feed to Rovers.

 

Mrs Desai remains convinced 'that within three years, we can be somewhere between seventh and fifth. That's our aim.'

 

Venky Rao defend's his sister's positive stance.

 

'You have to be allowed to think freely and act freely in this world,' he says. 'We will try to become one of the best clubs. That doesn't mean we promise to finish top four but why would we set an aim to finish 15th to 20th? That only demoralises yourself. We should think big, aim high.

 

'One thing is sure. If we go into this with the intention of getting publicity as a motivation, it's going to fail. If I buy as the first Indian and fail, that is a huge embarrassment. We're not at Blackburn for profit or publicity, we're at Blackburn because we'll enjoy it, and to create a legacy.'

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