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Tässäpä hieman tulkintaa BRFC:n tilanteesta itse toimitusjohtaja John Williamsin sulkäkynästä… (samainen juttu löytyy myös Paitsio.comin puolelta uutisena ja artikkelina).

 

Juttu on tälläisenään Blackburn Rovers FC:n virallisilla kotisivuilla…

 

CHAIRMAN'S REPORT

 

IF you believe, as indeed your Board does, that continuity, especially at Football Manager level is crucial, then a year which saw an early season change was always going to be difficult.

 

Graeme Souness left in the autumn to join Newcastle United. We wish him well. In his four and a half years with Rovers, Graeme, with Board support, was able to gain promotion, win a Worthington Cup and consolidate the team in the top division.

 

However, in the last two years we were unable to build on the 10th and 6th places achieved following our return to the Premier League and the task facing Mark Hughes upon arrival was a formidable one.

 

Mark set about galvanising the squad and with the help of a new backroom team he gradually improved our position. There has been a lot of emphasis on fitness and sports science. In the January window we were able to strengthen with the important acquisitions of Ryan Nelsen, Aaron Mokoena and Robbie Savage. Eventually we secured our Premier status with something to spare and reached the Semi-Final of the F.A. Cup.

 

This was the second year we have flirted with relegation. It is not a pleasant experience but is a salutary reminder of the demands of the League even with reasonably well-resourced playing squads.

 

Last year in the annual report to Shareholders we debated the relationship between league position and player wage costs. Whilst the comparison my be rough 'n' ready there clearly is, and should be, a link. We have underperformed for two seasons and with merit monies around £500,000 per place, this has dented our finances.

 

At the time of writing this report, Mark, in his first full season, has successfully negotiated the first third of the season and we are on target. This summer's additions of Shefki Kuqi and Craig Bellamy have given us more of a threat, and a further all round depth has been achieved by the season long loan deals for Zurab Khizanishvili, David Bentley and Richard Lee.

As Mark settles into the role he will further concentrate on the relationship between the senior playing squad and the Academy. It is vital given our limited resources that our young players are given every chance and encouragement to reach and sustain first team level.

 

The disappointing home form of 02/03 and 03/04 has seen a worrying decline in attendances at Ewood Park with average gates falling from 25,000 to 22,000 and the trend is continuing.

 

This is a complex issue. Research is telling us that winning games (and in an entertaining fashion) is important but other key factors are affordability, value, competitiveness, TV coverage, kick-off times, travel and the image of the game. They are all under investigation not only by Rovers but by the Premier League. The club is represented at the League's 'Attendance Working Party' which is meeting on a regular basis to look for League wide solutions.

Simultaneously, we have to accept responsibility for our own business, and its unique problems. We are a small town, with a small fan base playing in the big city set up of the Premier League. Clearly expectation levels have had to be lowered since the halcyon days of the Jack Walker era. To some extent the mists of reality have dawned over Ewood Park but let's not confuse mist with fog, or reality with lack of ambition - we are still punching above our weight. It is essential that we safeguard the business but at the same time we must not lose sight of what we are achieving. We will strive to keep the dream alive for our supporters and at the same time try to balance the books. We will have to work harder on and off the pitch and we will.

 

We have invested in CRM data technology to better understand and subsequently target our audience. We have taken a proactive stance on price (and price stretch) offering some of the most affordable seats in the League, and our focus on juniors will certainly reap dividends going forward. The work goes on.

 

Returning to the Premier League landscape, again at the time of writing good progress has been made in the important area of broadcasting rights. After lengthy negotiations we are close to agreement with the EU Commission. The way is clear to continue with collective selling, there will be no reduction in live games but crucially no increase either.

 

Given that over 50% of our turnover comes from broadcasting, the stability the potential agreement gives the League in preparation for the commercial dealings ahead, is reassuring.

 

The distribution of broadcasting revenues is not subject to regulatory influences. We remain convinced that the current arrangements, although they have served the league well, need revising going forward. Such a revision would address many of the issues 'around competitiveness' at the same time easing the financial pressure on clubs with smaller turnovers.

At operating level, on a turnover of £41.3m we made a profit of £1.0m. After player trading, including amortisation charge of £6.9m, the loss for the year before interest was £4.5m. Interest charges were £0.5m.

 

Turnover for the year was broadly level. A drop in domestic broadcasting revenues (largely due to phasing) was offset by an increase in overseas sales. Shareholders are also reminded when assessing our turnover that the club has sold both its retail and non-matchday catering businesses.

 

Staff costs remained constant at £31.3m. It is worth remembering that in 2001/2 on return to the Premier League they were £29.7m. So in four seasons the growth is in the region of 5.5%. It is expected that this level will be more or less retained for the current year 05/06, subject to January movements. In competitive terms this level of wages gives us a chance to compete around mid-table in the League. However, in absolute terms, and as a percentage of turnover (even adjusting turnover for retail/catering - as described above) they are too high. Strategically, we need to replace quantity with quality in the first eleven and look to the Academy graduates to provide cover lower down the squad. We continue to re-engineer the squad on this basis and the reduction in lengths of average contract going forward means that the Board can retain a degree of control over the situation.

 

We were honoured to be chosen as one of the key venues for the Women's Euro 2005 in June. We hosted the England games and the Final. The event was very successful for the club, the town and the region.

 

At the end of the season, we hosted a testimonial game for Tony Parkes; a most entertaining night in front of a bumper crowd of more than 14,000. Tony was a great servant to BRFC and his contribution to the club was immense over some 35 years. He will always be welcome at Ewood Park.

 

Many thanks to all our commercial partners and especially to HSA, who completed the final year of their club sponsorship. A very warm welcome to Sportsworld International who have taken over as kit and club sponsor, promoting their Lonsdale brand.

 

Our supporters of course have a special role within the club, especially season ticket holders and those who travel to support the team. They are the lifeblood, but we must not forget those who live far and wide across the country and the globe. We need them all and will continue to be as open and accessible as we can. A big thank you to all our supporters.

 

In June we introduced a number of changes at Board level. I became Executive Chairman, Tom Finn, Managing Director and Martin Goodman, Finance Director. Non-Executive Directors are David Brown (Vice-Chairman), Rob Coar and Richard Matthewman.

 

On behalf of all the Board a massive thank you to Keith Lee, Iain Stanners and George Root who retired from the Board. They have all done sterling work for the club. George and Iain have been honoured with the position of Vice-Presidents, whilst Keith replaces William Bancroft as our President. Again we would like to record the considerable work done by Mr. Bancroft as both a previous Chairman and latterly President of the club.

 

Finally, well done to all our staff without whose efforts we would not have a business to report on.

 

J O Williams

Chairman

13 December 2005

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John Williams tyytyväinen kausikorttien menekkiin...

 

...kauden 2006/2007 alkajaisiksi.

 

Hienoa että fanit ovat huomioineet viime kauden hyvät otteet ja kesäisestä Bellamyn lähdöstä huolimatta kausikortteja on tällä kaudella mennyt enempi kaupaksi (toistaiseksi) kuin mitä menneellä kaudella meni.

 

ROVERS have announced season ticket sales have now moved ahead of last year.

 

"It is good news on the eve of the new season" said Ewood Park chairman, John Williams. "There are still a few days to go so, hopefully, there will be more to come. I would like to thank everyone who has renewed and isue a special welcome to those who have joined the ranks of season ticket holders for the first time.

 

"We were always hopeful that after such a good home camapaign, season ticket sales would be strong, but we are always concerned about changing kick-off times, life-style changes, and price. Of course, in the area of kick-off times, we are victims of our own success in qualifying for Europe which will mean more Sunday games .

 

"We have tried to mitigate this with sensible pricing, including tickets from £250, and the price-freeze available to Early Bird scheme subscribers.

 

"We have introduced a variety of new ideas and tracking devices into the marketing activity. Direct highly-targeted campaigns have clearly helped. Also, we are able to quickly gather market research information from 'non-renewals' to assist with forward planning.

 

"While our numbers are small compared to some of the other Premier League clubs, we are heading in the right direction. In the end, however, no matter how innovative the marketing, how sensitive the pricing and how focussed the selling, it is results on the field that remain the biggest driver. We need to maintain the momentum of last season.

 

"Hospitality sales are also ahead of last year. A number of offers have been repackaged and lounges re-designed. On-going levels of interest remain buoyant. This is further good news, we need the business community to get behind the club."

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Suunnitelmia tulevaan

 

Meinaapi sitten John Williams että laskevat ensi kaudella peleihin pääsylippujenhintoja, koska tulevat tv-rahoja saamaan ensi kaudella todella huiman summan verrattuna aikaisempiin kausiin. Toki sillä edellytyksellä että sarjapaikka ensin varmistetaan siellä korkeimmalla tasolla seuraavaksikin kaudeksi.

 

 

Rovers chairman John William revealed today, that the Club will use money from the new television deal for the Premiership to continue to reduce prices for fans.

 

Rovers have introduced several pioneering initiatives already this season as part of a planned strategy to deal with concerns about the fall in attendances and the rise in the cost of watching matches.

 

John Williams said: "The new television deal offers the opportunity for us to ease some of the financial burden on fans and show that we recognise their concerns on this issue.

 

My team are currently analysing the information gleaned from a number of ticket promotions and will announce next season's pricing structure in due course.

 

We have been looking at ways of making sure fans get value for money for a long time now, it is not just something we have started in the last few months. We have implemented a planned strategy rather than a knee-jerk reaction on the issue of cost. We recognise that cost is an issue but we also have to balance that with the fact we need to compete with other Premiership clubs.

 

The Premiership is becoming increasingly predictable with most people able to name the top four clubs at the start of the season so we need to try and remain competitive but this has not stopped us addressing fans' concerns.

 

Already this season we have introduced The Card which rewards loyal fans with discounts on the price of tickets the more matches they go to. Season tickets are competitively priced and our Half Season tickets started from just £149 which works out less than £15 a game.

 

For the Bolton match in October we reduced prices for home and away fans to just £15 and the response was fantastic with an extra 10,000 people on the gate. This increase in attendance made sure we balanced the books and the same applied to the Middlesbrough match where we did a similar price offer.

 

If the game is to thrive in the future then we need a new generation of fans coming through the turnstiles to watch matches so we are also targeting school groups by offering reduced prices. For groups of 10 or more, the children pay just £3 and two accompanying adults get in for free.

 

We haven't forgotten about our season ticket holders though as these are the lifeblood of the club and we have made sure we have offered them value for money with reductions for our UEFA Cup matches.

 

Our forthcoming UEFA Cup clash against Bayern Leverkusen will be free to season ticket holders and just £15 for non season ticket holders with children paying just a £1 and student and senior tickets just costing £5.

 

We know the cost of coming to matches is an issue, therefore these initiatives have been implemented to combat this."

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John Williams: My 10 years at Rovers: Pt1

 

Todella mielenkiintoinen juttu/haastattelu :thumbsup1: LETista, ilmeisesti vielä jatkoakin olis tulossa...

 

 

John Williams: My 10 years at Rovers: Pt1

By Andy Neild

 

BLACKBURN Rovers chairman John Williams recently celebrated 10 years in the hot-seat at Ewood Park. In the first of an exclusive two-part series with the Lancashire Telegraph, he talks to Andy Neild about some of the highs and lows of the last decade...

 

 

Football has changed massively since you first became chief executive of Blackburn Rovers in 1997, John. What has been the biggest change over the last 10 years?

 

The biggest change for me has been the rate at which the top four have pulled away from the rest of the league.

 

They've created for themselves a virtuous circle of wealth. They're on television more than anyone else so they get more money. They finish higher in the league; they get more money. They get into the Champions League; they get more money.

 

Then they use that money to get the best players, so they win more games, and so it goes on, and I really don't see an end to that in the foreseeable future.

 

People have talked about wage capping as a possible solution, but I don't think that's realistic, given that we all want English clubs to do well in Europe.

As the rich get richer, I suppose that impacts on the wages they can offer players, too?

 

Yes. One of the fall-outs of that breakaway is the acceleration in players' wages.

 

The wages being paid by the top clubs are quite staggering. It's worth reflecting that eight years ago, when I was privileged to be working with Jack Walker, one of our top players at the time was in for a new contract and he wanted what was then the magic million pounds a year, or £20,000 a week.

But Jack was having none of it and he bet me that no Premier League player would ever earn a million pounds a year, and that was literally just eight years ago! Needless to say, that player did get very close to his £20,000 a week...

There have been plenty of highs and lows at Blackburn over the last decade.

 

What for you was the lowest moment?

 

The worst moment for me was unquestionably Jack Walker's death. Firstly, I'd lost a close colleague and a friend. And secondly I was also extremely worried we wouldn't recover as a club from that position.

 

I was always confident the trustees would be there for us financially and, indeed, particularly in those early years, when we needed to consolidate, they were.

 

But this was a man who was Mr Blackburn Rovers'. Jack would be the first to say that no one individual is bigger than the club, but in Jack's case, he was very, very close to being the exception to that rule. He was the pulse of the club, he had huge gravitas, and there was a huge out-pouring of grief when he passed away.

 

On top of that, we were also in the wrong' division when he died, so I was hugely worried about the future. But, fortunately, we had the right man at the helm in Graeme Souness, and we knuckled down to it as a club and pulled it around.

 

And the best moment?

 

Gaining promotion back to the Premiership at the end of that season. In my private moments, when I close my eyes, the thing I can recall the most vividly is Matt Jansen's header at Deepdale. That was the goal that effectively secured promotion and laid the platform for what has been a very decent run of results since we've been back in the Premier League. We are a town club and we have an enviable record, which the likes of Tottenham, Newcastle, Manchester City, Aston Villa and Everton would no doubt admire.

 

If success on the pitch has been one of your proudest achievements, is the decline in attendances the thing that has disappointed you the most?

 

Without question, the biggest frustration for me has been the decline in attendances, and I have to take that very firmly on the chin because it's during my time at the club that our average attendance has fallen from 25,000 to 20,000.

 

I didn't foresee that happening, but Jack was very perceptive and he did tell me when I first came to the club that he felt it was an issue.

 

I came here with the full intention of building on the crowd that we had by moving into new markets and looking for non-aligned fans, perhaps in the northern part of the region, because we were the only Premiership club in east and west Lancashire.

 

But now, there are seven of us in the county and it's very difficult to get the numbers in. It's become a different type of challenge - one of retention. I think we've reached that point now, without being complacent, and it's going to be a big challenge going forward.

 

What has been the biggest challenge you have faced?

 

The huge challenge for me has been the one that Jack placed upon us before he died. He had two demands.

 

The first was to be competitive on the pitch, and by that he meant qualifying for Europe and the top six. The second was we had to wash our face financially. He wanted the club to be self-sustaining.

 

We've not failed on the first one - I think our record on the field stands examination, as I've said already. But I think we have on the second count.

 

Now, for the first time, we do have a chance of achieving that because of the money from the new TV deal. Going forward, we've been able to return some of the money to our fans through reduced ticket prices, and we still believe we can remain competitive on the pitch. It will depend on what the other 19 clubs in the league do, but as a result we'll be able to have a stable, self-sustaining business and, in that sense, we'll have met that challenge.

 

Who has been the best signing of the last 10 years?

 

Brad Friedel. He's been absolutely superb. I can hardly remember him making a mistake. Everyone says if you're planning on being successful then you need a great goalkeeper and a great striker, and Brad's a great keeper. The fact he came on a free as well makes it even better business. He's had the biggest impact of any player in my time at the club.

 

And which signing was the biggest let-down?

 

Obviously, some signings have been less successful than others and it's not really fair to single out individuals. But in terms of expectations, the one that never quite worked out for us was Barry Ferguson. Graeme Souness thought the world of him as a player but I never quite got the feeling Barry fully settled here, and, of course, he also suffered an horrendous injury, so as a result, we never saw the best of him.

 

What about the one that got away?' Is there anyone who slipped through the net that you really wish had signed?

 

There haven't been many of those because we've tended to research our targets well and then got them. There was a general feeling amongst our fan base that we made a bid for Eidur Gudjohnsen last summer but although there was interest, we never made an offer. I think the one that got away was the one that we had - Craig Bellamy!

 

Is that one of the biggest frustrations of your job - losing star players to bigger clubs?

 

Yes it is. The more successful we are, the more difficult it becomes, not just to improve the squad, but to hold onto the players we already have.

Suddenly, we're doing well and we fall prey to people who want to buy our players. A huge amount of last summer was spent fending off people who wanted Morten Pedersen, Ryan Nelsen and Steven Reid. It's a compliment of sorts, but it's also hugely frustrating.

 

It's not a new thing. Jack Walker and Robert Coar couldn't hold onto Alan Shearer, despite their best efforts, and we all know how persuasive Jack could be. If a player ultimately wants to leave, there isn't a lot you can do about it. I'm sure we'll have to fight to keep some of our prized assets once again this summer, but you can rest assured we'll be doing our best to fend off that interest.

 

What's the hardest decision you've ever had to make?

 

The golden rule in this game is the relationship between the chairman and the manager has to be right. The problem comes when the manager wants to do something that the board feels is not quite right, and that is a tough decision. I can think of a couple of occasions when that has been the case, but almost without exception you back your manager.

 

What aspect of your job have you most enjoyed?

 

I enjoy the challenge of heart versus head. You cannot do the job without being a supporter and, really, our whole raison d'etre is to win football matches.

 

You can go with your heart too much in the boardroom, and sometimes you can also go too much with your head. What I've tried to do is find the middle balance and I think we have.

 

I think we've been able to support our managers on the one hand, and keep the club reasonably secure on the other. The trustees continue to support us, but we have also seen a steady growth in the borrowings, which shows you how difficult it is to balance things out.

 

I enjoy that tussle of heart versus head, though, and I think it's my role in life to be the what if' man. But hopefully if you were to ask Mark Hughes or Graeme Souness, they'd say I was still squarely behind them, wanting to win football matches.

 

And what do you least enjoy about it?

 

Losing matches. Definitely.

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John Williams interview: Part 2

 

...tässäpä olis sitten jälkimmäinen osa tuohon edellisessä viestissä alkaneeseen John Williamsin haastatteluun...

 

 

John Williams interview: Part 2

 

BLACKBURN Rovers' chairman John Williams recently celebrated 10 years at Ewood Park. In the second of an exclusive two-part interview with the Lancashire Telegraph, he tells Andy Neild his vision of the future for Rovers, and what direction he sees football heading in.

 

 

What does the future hold for Blackburn Rovers now? And is your biggest challenge to find the new Jack Walker?

 

I think it is but it's a really tricky area. If you were to get a hundred fans together, you'd probably get a hundred different answers on this issue. We clearly set out our stall when we made the board changes a couple of years ago saying that new investment - or a new owner - was on the agenda. It's not the sort of business where you hang a For Sale' sign out, and the pressure for selling has also changed. Because of the new television deal, we now have a stable business going forward, and we also have an excellent squad - probably the best we've had for a long, long time - so I don't think there's any pressure on the existing owners to sell the club. But the only thing constant is change so you've got to keep moving and try and move to the next level if you can. The problem is the next level for us is regularly finishing in the top six, and really the top four, so we are looking for the next Roman Abramovich, which is a very difficult task.

 

 

Has anyone expressed an interest in buying Blackburn?

 

We have had a number of expressions of interests, both from home and abroad, and there have been preliminary meetings. But, ultimately, that decision will come down to the trustees, who are the shareholders. As I said, to move the club from here to the next level is going to need a very serious investment and that would take a very special type of owner.

 

 

How far down the line have those talks gone?

 

I don't want to set any hares running but, clearly, we are alive to the situation. Premier League football clubs are rare - there are only 20 of them - and only a limited number are available. Blackburn Rovers would be available if the right quality of owner, in terms of financial clout and wishes for the club, were to step forward. It is difficult for the seller to demand of a buyer you must do this, and you must do that'. But I think the current owners realise they have a duty of care to the club. By the same token, they also realise that everything moves on, and it might be time for them to move the club on. However, they would want to do it in a way that was right for the next generation of fans. There has been interest and preliminary discussions have taken place, but we haven't gone any further than that as yet.

 

 

There has been some concern in the media about the number of Premiership clubs falling into foreign hands. Would that bother you at all if Blackburn became one of them?

 

I stand by what I said. I don't think nationality itself is an issue. I think it's more about the quality of the purchaser, and the direction in which they wish to take the club.

 

When you are involved in making big decisions that affect the club, is it always in the back of your mind is that what Jack Walker would have wanted?

Yes. But I'm not the owner of the club, and I don't own the shares. I was very fortunate to get quite close to Jack in a relatively short period of time so I always try to do my best by him. But I also think we can rely on the trustees, most of whom were also close to Jack in different ways. They know it's an awesome responsibility that they have, and I'm delighted in some ways that the financial pressures at least seem to be off them. There's no pressing need to sell, which I hope will mean if we do find the right entity or person to buy the club, we are in a better position to make the right choice.

 

 

What do you think the biggest challenge facing football is right now? Is it making the game more affordable to the working classes?

 

I think there's a cold wind blowing through the game right now. That's clearly not evident with the top four clubs, who are growing their capacities. At the moment, the product just goes from strength to strength, but everything has its cycles and I think we have to be pro-active in terms of doing things on a club-by-club basis, as well as a league basis, to make sure we give greater longevity. Football has grown spectacularly well, hence the value of the new TV deal, so we are obviously doing something right. Having said that, one of my favourite business sayings is by the time you see the bandwagon coming, it's too late'. I think we need to start making adjustments now, and price adjustment is one, in order to make sure there's another good 10 years in the future.

 

 

Rovers have been praised, and quite rightly so, for taking a bold stance on the reduction of ticket prices for next season. But do you feel you could have acted sooner, or do you think you did everything you possibly could to help improve attendances?

 

The cynics will say John Williams is not stupid, he's not giving anything back, he's a businessman and this is, to quote the jargon, a price/volume experiment'. I'm not Robin Hood, and I don't claim to be robbing from the rich to give to the poor, or anything like that. What I do say is this. My personal belief is football is too expensive. Despite the growth in wages of the ordinary man's pay packet, when you look at the indices of his mortgage and electric bills, and the cost of his holiday, I think watching 90 minutes of football is too expensive. I look at many fans, I see them home and away, and I see them bringing their kids, and the amount of their disposable income that is going on football is heartening and frightening at the same time. So, yes, I think it's too dear and this has now been brought into focus because even those who can afford it are beginning to query the value. You've got the changing kick-off times, the procession that the league is, over exposure on television, and other things as well. From a pure business decision, coupled with the increased money that we've got, this is the right time to really test whether price is one of the key drivers in attendance. If, in 12 months' time it still hasn't helped to increase volume, I will still regard it as the right and proper thing to do on moral grounds, if you like, because I'll be happier that our fans are paying a more reasonable and more realistic price.

 

 

What does the future hold for you personally?

 

Who knows? I don't have any real long-term thoughts about that. Ten years is a fair old time and I feel as though we've tried to carry on with the vision that Jack wanted. I'm not saying that it's job done. I'll be here for the current owners as long as they want me. Beyond that, I really can't say. But I'd love to join the Barmy Army on a cricket tour somewhere.

 

 

And what do you hope you will be remembered for?

 

Hopefully someone who was able to get the club through a difficult period after Jack died. I think a bit like referees, chairmen and boards of directors should be seen and not heard. The game is about players and my style has been about trying to be quietly effective, rather than seeking headlines. When I'm an old man, sat in the corner of some pub, trying to tell someone I was once the chairman of Blackburn Rovers, I suspect they will never believe me. I think together with the other directors and senior managers, we've done a decent job. I think the two big decisions - the appointments of Graeme Souness and Mark Hughes - we got right. Whether that was good judgement, or we just got lucky, it doesn't matter. The fact is we made the right decisions. It's been an interesting 10-year journey and I think the best thing we've done as a board during that time was appoint Mark because he has been outstanding. He is incredibly responsible and financially intelligent as well. I don't have to have toe-to-toe arguments with him, but at the same time, I don't want Mark to become compliant, I want him to be challenging. When he pushes me, it challenges me more to get this balance between heart and head right.

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Saapi nähdä mitä Jack Walkerin perilliset päättävät, ilmeisesti eivät kovin innokkaita jalkapallon ja sitä kautta seuran fanittajia ole, joten rahahanat eivät hirveän avoimet ole Jackin jälkeen enää olleet. Toki sen minimin ovat antaneet että seura on suhteellisen omavaraiseksi päässyt mutta suuria summia ja tukea ei kuitenkaan herunut ole.

 

Eikä mikään mahdottomuus John Williamsin mielestä ole että muutoksia tulee tapahtumaan, jos sopiva ehdokas seuran ostajaksi tarjoutuu.

 

Jonkin verran jotain villejä huhuja on asian tiimoilta viime aikoina ilmoille heitelty että jotain voisi olla kenties suunniteltu...

 

 

Rovers bring in top gun in bid to attract investment

By Andy Neild

 

BLACKBURN Rovers have enlisted the services of a corporate adviser in their quest to attract new investment in the club.

 

In an exclusive interview with the Lancashire Telegraph, chairman John Williams recently revealed that the club had received a number of expressions of interest', both from Britain and abroad, from prospective new owners.

 

Preliminary meetings have already taken place with several interested parties, and now the club have taken the step of engaging independent specialists who will advise the trustees on the next step forward.

 

Although a deal to sell the club to a new investor is not thought to be imminent, the fact Rovers have started the process of assessing the different options open to them could clear the way for a possible takeover bid this summer.

 

Williams recently told the Telegraph: "I don't want to set any hares running but, clearly, we are alive to the situation.

 

"Premier League football clubs are rare - there are only 20 of them - and only a limited number are available.

 

"Blackburn Rovers would be available if the right quality of owner, in terms of financial clout and plans for the club, were to step forward.

 

"We have had a number of expressions of interest, both from home and abroad, and there have been preliminary meetings.

 

"But, ultimately, that decision will come down to the trustees, who are the shareholders."

 

With the new TV deal about to kick in this summer, Rovers have never been in a stronger position to attract outside investment because the new deal will effectively enable them to become financially self-sufficient.

 

However, if the club wants to move to the next level, which means regularly finishing in the top six in the Premiership, and maybe even challenging the top four, it's imperative they attract new investment as that would enable manager Mark Hughes to be more competitive in the transfer market.

 

"Because of the new television deal, we now have a stable business going forward so I don't think there's any pressure on the existing owners to sell the club," said Williams.

 

"But the only thing constant is change so you've got to keep moving and try and move to the next level if you can.

 

"The problem is the next level for us is regularly finishing in the top six, and ultimately the top four, so we are looking for the next Roman Abramovich, which is a very difficult task."

 

With the Premier League now considered to be the most financially successful league in the world, there's no shortage of parties willing to invest millions in its member clubs.

 

Three of the big four - Chelsea, Manchester United and Liverpool - have already been taken over by foreign investors, and the fourth, Arsenal, are currently at the centre of a power struggle involving the American billionaire, Stan Kroenke.

 

On top of that, West Ham United, Portsmouth and Aston Villa also have foreign owners, while Manchester City are believed to be in talks with San Francisco-based investment banker Jerome Simon about a possible takeover.

 

When asked recently if Rovers would welcome foreign investment, Williams said: "I don't think nationality itself is an issue.

 

"I think it's more about the quality of the purchaser, and the direction in which they wish to take the club."

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Saiskos tuon topicin otsakkeen muutettua vaikkapa "yksinkertaistettua" John Williams muotoon...

 

...joten siirtomarkkinat menivät tämän 2008 tammikuun osalta siihen että muita joukkueita saatiin taas hätyytellä pois omien kultakimpaleiden kimpusta. Hienoa että Bentley ja Santa Cruz pidettiin ! joten ilmeisesti ainakaan heillä ei ole bellersmäisiä hintalappuja pistettynä takaportiksi jos haluavat häippästä, vaan seura on se joka määrittelee tällöin hinnan pelaajalle.

 

Rovers chairman: No need to panic

By Andy Neild

 

BLACKBURN Rovers chairman John Williams has urged supporters to keep the faith in the battle to secure a top-six finish.

 

While the rest of Rovers' rivals in the scramble to qualify for Europe were busy doing deals before last night's deadline, there was no late flurry of incoming transfer activity at Ewood Park, as manager Mark Hughes decided instead to keep his powder dry until the summer.

 

The only significant piece of business involving Rovers on deadline day saw striker Paul Gallagher join Championship outfit Stoke City on loan until the end of the season.

 

But while some supporters may be frustrated by the lack of new arrivals, Williams believes Rovers still have the strength in depth to mount a sustained charge for a UEFA Cup spot after the club successfully fended off enquiries for five of their leading players during the window, including leading scorer Roque Santa and star midfielder David Bentley.

 

Williams told the Lancashire Telegraph: "We had enquiries about five of our players and we could have been incredibly busy during the window by trading players.

 

"But that's not what we wanted to do. Mark has great faith in this squad and that's why we rejected all the enquiries we had.

 

"We could have sold four or five of our players and brought in another five or six, but that's not the direction in which we want to go.

 

"We want to keep the players we have and add to what we've got if possible, but the targets we had weren't available in the window.

 

"Several other things were put to us but they weren't going to make any difference so, in the end, we decided to keep our powder dry until the summer."

 

Rovers did make firm enquiries about a long-term midfield target and a striker but the clubs involved were unwilling to let either player go in January, so Hughes may now resurrect deals for both in the summer instead.

 

Right now, though, the focus remains firmly on trying to qualify for Europe for a third successive season, and with only five points separating Rovers and fourth-placed Everton, who they face at Ewood tomorrow, Hughes' side are still firmly in the running.

 

"We've got 14 games to go and if we have a bit of luck with injuries then we believe we've got a great chance," said Williams.

10:15am*Friday*1st*February*2008

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Miehen mietteitä, jos "pahin kävisi toteen"...

 

 

Williams: Why Blackburn can't be relegated

10:40am Saturday 20th December 2008

By Andy Cryer »

 

JOHN Williams admits relegation would leave Blackburn Rovers in an “extremely vulnerable” situation as he hit back at critics claiming Paul Ince deserved more time.

 

Portsmouth boss Tony Adams was just one who vehemently spoke out in defence of Rovers’ former boss, calling his sacking ‘spineless’, but Williams has graphically revealed why the decision HAD to be taken.

 

Ince may just have been in the Rovers hot-seat for less than six months but, with the club sitting second from bottom in the Premier League, Williams was clear that there was no room to gamble.

 

The Blackburn chairman insists he has full confidence in new boss Sam Allardyce to end an 11-match winless streak and help Rovers climb the table but admits there is a daunting task ahead.

 

He said: “Relegation would mean our turnover would fall from £56million to £22m. Of course that is not the end of the story. That is the turnover for two years with a parachute.

 

“Go beyond that and you are talking about something completely different. For established Championship clubs that £22m figure would more than half.

 

“It is disappointing to lose Paul, it is the pressures of the Premier League. There was a time when clubs got relegated and tomatoes were thrown at directors’ cars and fans lost the bragging rights in the pub. These days you might lose your business if you are not careful.

 

“It has been around for a long time this club and the club feels we need to do what we have to to preserve it and it was felt a change was necessary.”

 

While Rovers won’t rank highly in the transfer fees paid table in recent years, they have more than matched their Premier League rivals in wages.

 

Williams though admits around 80 per cent of the club’s turnover goes back out in the wage bill, leaving Rovers facing a perilous situation if they can’t climb the table.

 

He has revealed contract clauses will see players’ wages drop if relegation happens but admits their position would still be far from rosy.

 

He said: “We have a relatively small fan base, relatively small external funding that the club can generate ourselves. The problem with the structure of the Premier League vis-a-vis the Championship is you are damned if you do and damned if you don’t.

 

“The fact of the matter is we don’t play turnovers on a Saturday, we play other teams’ wage bills and if you want to be competitive you have to give yourself a chance.

 

“That stretches us enormously. We have tried to make sure while we haven’t been able to compete in the capital market, we have been able to compete in the wages market.

 

“We have come to a point where we are paying too high a percentage of the turnover but sometimes that is a better route than spending the capital.

 

“Clearly because of that situation we are vulnerable. We have tried to make contacts that mitigate the disaster of relegation, we will suffer great hardship if the club is relegated and that is why we could not give Paul Ince any more time. Blackburn Rovers is extremely vulnerable if it gets relegated.”

 

With just 13 points under their belt so far this campaign, Williams fears the 40-point mark will need to be breached to guarantee top flight status this campaign.

 

“The fact remains if we go win, lose, draw, which is a 33 per cent win ratio, from now on in we will end up on 41. I don’t know if that is enough,” he said.

 

“We never thought we would be here. The fact is two weeks ago we were a win from safety and everyone was saying it is a very compact league and only a couple of wins needed to climb the table.Well actually that is not true any more.

 

“Along with West Brom, we now need two wins to get out of the bottom three. Lets not kid ourselves.

 

“The fact is we are in a serious predicament, lets not over-egg it because if we do that we will go down. Lets talk about the 63 points to play for rather than the 13 we have got.”

 

Williams was also quick to play down the option of looking to a short-term fix, claiming Allardyce was at Rovers for the long haul - whatever happens in the next few months.

 

He said: “That is not the Blackburn way though, we still prefer to try and build and it is testament to this relationship that both parties knows we have to get up one hell of a steam to retain Premier League status.

 

“I am not here to knock Paul Ince. But the overriding feeling from Sam and others is that this squad is under performing.

 

“I have never seen a dressing room quite as flat as after that Wigan game. It did not feel there would be any bounce back factor and with the stakes as high as we just talked about we felt we had to take action.”

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Miehen mietteitä, jos "pahin kävisi toteen"...

 

 

.” [/i]

Olipas se syvällistä luettavaa... :proud:

On tuo joukkueen tuloille aika paha takaisku tippua divariin... Pelaaja kato kova sen jälkeen.. Ei ole johdollakaan helppo elää paineen alaisena :lala:

Olen tyytyväinen omaan duuniini!

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Williams: No room for errors at Blackburn Rovers

10:11am Wednesday 11th February 2009

Exclusive By Andy Cryer »

 

 

IN an exclusive interview, we went face to face with Blackburn Rovers chairman John Williams to discuss the finer details of the club’s recently published 2007/08 accounts.

 

 

Q: The 2007/08 accounts are the best financial results posted for some time by the club, with a record £56million turnover revealed. On first glance they look a decent set of accounts John, is that too simplistic an analysis though?

 

A: They are a good set of accounts but I don’t want them to be taken in isolation.

 

They are to be looked at in the context of the last few years and the next couple of years.

 

It was the first year of a new broadcasting deal that largely contributed to that record turnover, although it does have to be pointed out that our turnover is still considerably below the Premier League average.

 

The numbers for the new deal for 2010 – 2013, should be known by the end of the year, with the Match of the Day rights renewals showing some positive signs of the value holding up.

 

The outcome of these deals is very important because of the 56m, £40m will be media driven.

 

If that was to fluctuate dramatically you can see the obvious effect on our business.

 

Our operating profit/loss model shows we are trying to effectively operate, give or take, at break-even.

 

If we make a profit, fine, but essentially it is very difficult for Blackburn Rovers to make a profit.

 

Any profit you make you tend to reinvest either in the team as capital expenditure or into your team as player wages and we have to reinvest in our fixed assets as well.

 

It was a year where we made an operating profit, the best for a long time, but overall at operating level for the last five years you can see we have made £4m, before financing costs, after which we broke even.

 

That was the plan and we have delivered.

 

Where did that £6.6m operating profit come from? A million and a half of it was from unexpected, unbudgeted additional TV appearances.

 

That knocks it back to £5m and we also had a very good finish of seventh.

We budgeted to finish mid table, so that accounts for another £3m.

 

In 2008/09, to repeat £56.4m turnover, we effectively have to finish mid-table again.

 

That is our aim but is looking difficult at the moment.

 

With that £6.6m of operating profit, we can either use it to buy a player or we can keep what we have got, and that is what we have done.

 

The £6m surplus has by and large been taken up by wages increasing from the £40m in these accounts to £46m if you were reading next year’s accounts.

 

That is fine but our concern is that £56m turnover is under threat, partly because we will have less TV games but the real fear is how many places below 10th are we going to finish.

That is how finely balanced it is.

 

 

Q: Some fans have expressed their disappointment over a lack of activity in the transfer market. They have seen players like David Bentley leave the club and ask where does the money go?

 

A: Arsenal received a significant proportion of the fee.

 

This was a consequence of a small transfer fee when Bentley came in.

The money together with the Friedel receipt has broadly financed Grella, Robinson, Diouf, Andrews, Bunn and Villanueva’s loan fee.

 

We have largely used external bank debt to buy players, I would say the debt is well secured though and we believe it is at an acceptable level.

As long as the bank continues to allow the current levels of borrowings, we can service it.

 

 

Q: Over the past five years, your wage bill has been an average 76 per cent of your annual turnover. You predict that the current season will see that rise again from the £39.7m of 2007/08, how concerning is that for a football club?

 

A: We would prefer our wages were a lower percentage of our turnover.

It is our lot in life to try and be as competitive as we can and it means we have to control non-football expenditure very tightly and we do.

 

That enables us to pay a bit more in wages. We don’t play other people’s turnover, we play their wage bills.

 

The most worrying thing is that as our percentage remains stubbornly high, we are falling down the absolute wages chart.

 

If we ran with the 17th highest wage bill, believing that would mean three teams finish below us, that would be incredibly risky.

 

Of course if you finish with the 12th highest wage bill and you get relegated and you have a relatively small turnover you are in for trouble, which is why relegation for us would be so worrying.

 

The projected wage rise for 08/09 is not primarily driven by summer transfer activity, but the plethora of new contracts for existing players.

 

There is a cost, but in return we get contract security, important in a rising capital market and for a club whose model will occasionally require positive balances from player trading.

 

 

Q: You state in the chairman’s report John, that the club remains fiercely ambitious. Is that possible for a club which is unable to match the levels of spending others have reached?

 

A: I would underline ambition because that is the point about an 80 per cent wage bill, which is still very high.

 

I would term that as not reckless, but a calculated gamble, a true expression of our ambition.

 

Of course if we finish below our budgeted level there can be a serious adverse consequence on our finances, but football is no ordinary business - there is some risk, considered risk but not reckless.

 

The obsession of linking the size of the cheque book to ambition is at best over simplistic. We are fiercely ambitious at this club, at every level, every meeting and every day.

 

Our budgeting is aggressive budgeting, particularly with regard to a good final league position.

 

This in turn allows us to fund the aforementioned high wage bill.

 

 

Q: How difficult is it when you see clubs spending obscene amounts of money? Can the Premier League do anything; can they even up the playing field?

 

A: It hurts. It does not make the playing field seem level.

 

But some would say it was not so long ago Blackburn had their Jack Walker.

 

So we can’t be too down because we had our spell, although it feels like an awfully long time ago.

 

But we are not alone in finding the going tough. It is worth noting that more than half the clubs had positive transfer receipts during the January window – a sign of the times perhaps?

 

The Premier League has tried to even up the playing field.

 

They would argue their distribution formula of the revenue gives a semblance of even distribution.

 

I would not disagree, but would argue it could be more even.

 

More sporting socialism, a bit like the NFL, would suit Rovers.

 

They would argue they have a very good competition, the most watched competition and the most competitive competition in the world and I could not argue with that.

 

Also as we stand now, I could not argue with the fact that any one of five clubs could win the league and any one of 10 could be relegated.

 

There are interesting competitions going on within sections of the league.

 

 

Q: Has the current economic climate made competing even harder? I suppose the relatively small population of Blackburn does limit you.

 

A: We operate in a small, relatively impoverished town, and clearly there is a limit to how successful we can be using price as a driver.

 

We accept all these challenges and battle on, but at the other end of the spectrum we look at pricing levels and volumes achieved by many of our competitors with a ‘green eye’.

 

It is the size of gates and the amounts other clubs charge that is the crux of the matter. That is the real point of disadvantage for Rovers.

 

We have been reducing prices for a long time, so whilst they are not recession proof, they are very competitive.

 

If you looked at our pricing structure and Championship clubs pricing structure you would be unable to notice who the Premier League club are and that makes our product good value for money. But we have Premier League expenses.

 

But if that is all supporters will pay, you have to adjust to your market accordingly.

 

There has always been a counter view that if we were to lower our prices even further we would fill the ground and have a fantastic atmosphere, sell more goods etc.

 

It doesn’t work, you can’t make the numbers stack up.

 

 

Q: It appears one of your big fears is that Rovers could move from a trading club, where you currently are, to a net selling club. How likely is this and what would it mean for the club’s Premier League future?

 

A: If we can keep the profit and finance charge costs in line by finishing mid-table, our model suggests we can still be a trading club because there is no need to sell.

 

There is a huge difference between clubs who can’t afford to buy but don’t need to sell and those who have to sell.

 

It would be very comforting from a balance sheet point of view but we don’t actually need the £20m for Roque.

 

Trading means we sell someone for £2m and buy someone for £2m.

 

The problem is it invariably gets harder and harder to replace on a like for like basis.

 

It’s all about good scouting, selling high and buying low. Can we keep repeating that trick?

 

I think we can but what we can’t do is make a big mistake.

 

You can make a small mistake, everyone does, but we can’t go out and spend £5m on a player who is not good enough.

 

That would kill us. Because our finances are so finely balanced.

 

Okay, we have moved from the Jack Walker days of a buying club to where we are now, a trading club, but I think that’s fantastic for a club our size in this the most competitive of environments.

 

It is important fans understand we are not going to become a selling club because the board or owners say we want to be a selling club, because we want to make money.

 

That is not going to happen here. Since Jack’s death our owners in fairness to them have never looked for returns, they just don’t want to put any more money in.

 

As long as we can preserve our mid-table Premier League status, the club is stable but without funding from our shareholders there is always the danger of moving from a trading club to a net selling club.

 

It is the simple economics of a club with a small fan base.

 

Occasionally, we may have to sell high and replace at a lower level.

 

The pressure comes on us if our model starts to come under threat.

 

How is that model going to come under threat? Falling down or out of the league or if wage inflation in the league outstrips income growth.

 

 

Q: That takes us on to Rovers’ search for a new owner. How are things progressing on that front?

 

A: It is not the greatest time. It seems to me, the current fashion is moving towards the only deals being super rich deals with super rich people.

 

The owners’ advisers are well briefed and we are constantly supplying updated info and doing our bit.

 

Clearly it would be a great solution to the dilemma we have talked about.

I don’t really think anyone is going to buy into Blackburn Rovers looking for a return on their investment.

 

Maybe for capital growth in the medium to long term, but to maintain the club in the Premier League it would seem to be difficult to do that and make a short term return on investment.

 

That doesn’t mean that the acquisition of Rovers as a Premier League club with relatively small debts does not present a tremendous opportunity for the right person.

 

The credit crunch has made it very difficult for people to invest in football clubs to make money.

 

It was difficult enough in a more favourable climate.

 

 

Q: So what does the future have in store? It seems as though it is a continuing battle to ensure Blackburn Rovers stay as a trading club.

 

A: We are holding our own. It feels as though we are holding a rock up an incline.

 

We are on a slope and every now and again the slope seems to ratchet a couple of degrees steeper.

 

But we are managing and can continue to. We’ve got strong arms!

 

It will be a sad day that a team’s very existence in the Premier League is dependent on geography or the size of its owners’ wallet but, unfortunately, that is the world in which we live.

 

Rovers fans need to pull together and do everything they can to help us buck the trend.

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Q&A with Blackburn Rovers chairman

4:50pm Thursday 10th June 2010

 

As Blackburn Rovers start to step up their preparations for the new season, chairman John Williams takes time out to discuss the financial state of the club. Here, he talks exclusively about wages, budgets, and the future.

 

Would you rate the 2009/10 season as a success? Are the club ahead of expectations compared to where you budgeted?

 

Most definitely, on and off the field.

 

Despite our financial constraints a top 10 finish; 50 points; a Carling Cup semi-final, beating Chelsea along the way; superb home form; beating Arsenal; draws with Man Utd, Liverpool and Chelsea; doubles over Villa and our local rivals Bolton and Burnley; three clean sheets; and only three home defeats.

 

Not bad!

 

Sam achieved an excellent return of 1.3pts per game in his first half season, we knew if we could sustain that level a mid-table finish was achievable.

 

Our wage costs also suggested mid-table.

 

We actually budgeted to finish 13th but Sam put up a compelling case for Michel Salgado.

 

This meant we had to re-forecast to 11th.

 

A tall order but we did it with a bit to spare and only goal difference denying us ninth.

 

There was a story in a national newspaper earlier in the season stating Sam Allardyce was close to the sack? It attracted huge interest but can you confirm this was nothing but gossip mongering?

 

It was exactly that – gossip mongering. I recall it starting after the defeat at Man City.

 

Sam was rightly upset and kept the players in the dressing room afterwards – the next thing you know we are in ‘crisis’.

 

I did like Sam’s reply to the question, something along the lines “if it were true I think I would know about it”.

 

I think that speaks volumes for his perception of the open relationship we have.

 

You must feel your decision to bring Sam Allardyce has been justified? He has turned things round remarkably in a short space of time?

 

Sam has done very well. He has certainly turned us around after the very disappointing half season with Paul Ince.

 

Sam’s initial focus was on keeping the club up. That initial target was achieved, he then needed to get us back to the level we have previously enjoyed. (seven top 10 finishes in nine years, six semi-finals, etc).

 

This season’s achievement needs to be viewed in the context of the Premier League getting stronger and stronger. Sam has delivered.

 

Rovers sold two key players last summer for considerable money, having sold a few the summer before as well. Has the money helped put Rovers back on an even keel or can we expect more sales this summer?

 

We have been through this before but let’s recap.

 

In 2008/9 we needed to sell Roque Santa Cruz to make up for a poor league finish against budget 9 v 15, increased wages and disappointing TV facility income.

 

The balance went essentially on funding Nikola Kalinic and Gael Givet and the change of management teams.

 

As we prepared budgets for this (2009/10) season we really needed to cut £5m for the wage bill.

 

After a series of comings and goings (10 in and 10 out) the new wage target was looking very difficult and we chose to raise funds by selling Stephen Warnock, instead of lowering wages.

 

I’ve said before selling players to maintain operating costs isn’t everyone’s cup of tea, to be truthful it’s not my preferred model, but it’s a model that works for us.

 

What’s changed is that since new enhanced broadcast revenues for the three-year cycle beginning 10/11 we can just about maintain wage levels without the need for capital receipts.

 

So in simple terms we become a trading club.

 

Some of our fans would prefer we could be a buying club but that’s not possible.

 

We do though have circa £50m of playing assets to trade with.

 

I still think wages need to come down but to preserve Jack’s legacy (and that’s my number one driving force) we need to make sure we stay in the Premier League.

 

A mid-ranking wage bill is important, particularly if net transfer funds are not available.

You must be the delighted with the response to the club’s ticketing initiatives last season? Do you anticipate a similar response next season? How long is it sustainable to keep offering tickets at the sort of prices you are?

 

I certainly hope so. But every year there is churn, and the percentage has been constant over the years.

 

If that continues then you have more to lose from the increased (19,000) base.

 

As supporters drop out one end of the tube we work hard to find new ones to replace them.

 

Having said all that, retention remains our key objective.

 

Excellent value for money, excellent home form, an improving atmosphere at the ground all helps.

 

The battle to take back Ewood has been almost won, we need to step up a gear and move from “Taking Back Ewood” to “Fortress Ewood”.

 

Our fans hold the key to how long we can sustain prices.

 

We are taking a circa £10m plus hit against many mid-ranking teams in the gate income and associated revenue lines.

 

But our model can accommodate this provided we keep selling tickets, and growing the attendance.

 

Rovers are constantly being linked with big-money strikers but is this slightly unrealistic given the club’s financial position?

 

Yes I’m afraid it’s totally unrealistic.

 

The wage to turnover ration has been an area for concern in recent times, what is the situation now?

 

As referred to earlier it’s too high, but for me it’s also a question of controlling all the other costs which we do well.

 

If we run at the often quoted more sensible 65-70% level we would have to make savings of approximately £7.5m.

 

That would mean moving down from mid-table in the wages league (12th at the moment) to a level where alarm bells would be sounding.

 

It’s a conundrum; it won’t go away we have to continue to manage our way through it.

 

How are the club off financially now? Is there any sign of the Walker Trust putting any more money into the club or is it a case of continuing to stand on your own two feet?

 

We run a tight ship but will still have to make adjustments as we prepare for the impact of UEFA’s new financial fair play rules – notably the ‘break even’ requirement.

 

Our owners have made it clear that they cannot see their way to provide funds as equity or donations.

 

This has been the position for some time now so self sufficiency is the order of the day. It’s a challenge!

Has there been any progress on the potential sale of the club? Are there any parties out there with any serious interest?

 

The situation is fluid, there is real interest and discussions continue.

 

What is the future for the club? Can you continue to compete with the millions of pounds being spent by your rivals?

 

I can only look medium term. For the next three years (TV cycle) I believe we can compete.

 

Not like for like with those who are spending millions but competing, where it matters, on the pitch.

 

These are good days, good years for Blackburn Rovers. History, I’m sure, will show that to be the case.

 

I believe we can continue to over perform against our relatively constrained funding.

 

Keep the passport handy – you never know!

 

 

TOMORROW: Andy Cryer takes your questions in a live 30-minute Rovers web-chat at 12.30pm.

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Q&A with Blackburn Rovers chairman

Friday 3rd September 2010

 

FOLLOWING the close of the summer transfer window, the Blackburn Rovers chairman John Williams has spoken at length to us about the club’s dealings and his thoughts for the season ahead.

 

 

A lot of the good work carried out by the club this summer seems to have been ignored. Are you happy with what has been done this summer?

 

For the first time in a while we were able to state with some confidence that we didn’t have to sell.

 

And we haven’t despite some very real interest (for more than one player) which has been firmly resisted.

 

Back in January when we sold Benni for £2m we looked at an immediate replacement – Sam was keen to get Benjani but Sunderland stepped in, so we decided to go with Franco, Niko and Jason.

 

It worked for us. We had a good second half, seeing a 10th place finish.

 

With Franco returning to Chelsea and effectively down to two strikers, our summer focus was to bring one, preferably two in.

 

We have achieved this with Mame Diouf and Benjani. Our four strikers give a good balance of playing options, age and experience.

 

We still had a balance of Benni’s fee available (less Mame Diouf’s loan fee) although phasing is an issue.

 

Over a month ago we made a bid for a Premier League striker who we were told was available but he was withdrawn from the market.

 

Subsequently we made bids in Sweden and Bulgaria but initially in both instances valuations were greater than ours.

 

They were different types of players, both for the future, and on balance Sam opted for the experience of Benjani, following extensive ‘testing’ at Brockhall.

 

People have asked if the possible takeover of the club has affected our thinking.

 

No, not really, we can only operate within current finances.

 

To gamble now with a bigger name would be irresponsible until we knew for sure the money was there.

 

So going back to our overall plan to replace Benni and Franco, we’ve done it. It’s Mame for Franco and Benji for Benni.

 

Our other priority was to re-contract Morten – Sam has spoken often on this. It was a very significant re-signing for us.

 

There have been new and extended contracts for Phil Jones, Martin Olsson, Steven Nzonzi and Grant Hanley.

 

Last summer we took in 10 new players.

 

Too many and it took time to bed in. Perhaps if we had taken five last year and five this year some fans would be happier.

 

That said, the last day of the window was disappointing.

 

On the positive side we were able to move some players on.

 

This was important providing wage savings to offset the cost of new contracts to Olsson, Nzonzi, Pedersen, Jones and Hanley.

 

However, we were expecting a bid for Jason Roberts. We were confident he would be fit and ready to fight for his place if he was still with us, but deep down I think we wanted a move.

 

The problem was we couldn’t let him go without a replacement.

 

Four strikers are needed. We covered our position with Ivelin Popov ready to come to Rovers.

 

His club knew the deal was dependent on Jason leaving but in the end no bid came.

 

Five strikers was never going to be an option, nor was letting Jason leave on a free.

 

 

You have talked in the past about the need to reduce the wage bill. Have you had any success?

 

t’s widely reported that our 2009 figure was circa 90 per cent of turnover.

 

The year end June 2010 will show this has fallen to 82 per cent and we are forecasting for the current year a further, albeit small, drop to 79 per cent.

 

While this represents progress from the business perspective, on the field we are falling down the wages league.

 

It is the classic dilemma I have so often talked about.

 

For us it’s a turnover, not wages issue.

 

At current levels we have a break-ven model at operating level.

 

This is important not only for financial well-being but with an eye on the proposed UEFA financial fair play.

 

 

You have some of the best youngsters in the Premier League on your books and committed for the long term. Are there plans to cash in on their talents or do you hope the club’s future can be built around them?

 

You never want to sell your best players.

 

Sadly we’ve had to in recent years but still managed not only to stay in the Premier League but do well.

 

We’ve been busy on the contract front to secure key youngsters on long playing careers at Ewood.

 

If not, then to secure asset values to help keep the club in good financial health.

 

 

Blackburn Rovers finished above budget in 10th last season. Are you expecting more this season? What position has been budgeted for?

 

Our squad is stronger than last year. Continuity and development of the youngsters underpins that.

 

The problem is what are the others doing? If we don’t get too many injuries we will look for a top half finish.

 

Let’s get to 40 as quickly as possible and push on from there.

 

 

Are you happy with the amount of season tickets sold? What is the figure now and is that better or worse than last season?

 

Yes we are happy. Given the depth of the recession we have done well to come close to last year’s excellent number.

 

The slight downscale c500 has been balanced by a small 5% increase in price.

 

Our fan base is very loyal. We don’t over-promise and they know how tight funds are.

 

But they still like to win, and we delivered on that score last season (3 defeats at home!) In Blackburn the key has to be a combination of value and affordability.

 

There is always room for improvement but I believe we have the balance just about right.

 

 

Sam Allardyce has been reported to have offered his resignation due to lack of funds this summer. Is there any truth in this or is it more just false rumours?

 

Sam certainly did not offer his resignation. As you say a false rumour.

 

I believe there was real interest from a club in the Middle East, but nothing materialised I’m pleased to say.

 

How hard is it for a Premier League chairman to read countless rumours about the club every day – even if some have very little or no truth to them. It must make your job harder?

 

These rumours are something we have to live with.

 

It’s part of the game and in a somewhat masochistic way they are entertaining and keep fans engaged.

 

What is annoying and often divisive is when opinion is offered as fact.

 

This is all too common, especially on messageboards.

 

Does it make the job harder? I suppose so.

 

We try to do our business in a business-like manner and ‘in private’ but it would be hypocritical to suggest there aren’t occasions when we use the media to our advantage.

 

 

Will there be funds available when the window reopens in January if there has been no takeover of the club?

 

If there is no takeover we are sitting on a small balance and we shall try and help the manager if we can.

 

But there are constant demands on the money.

 

Improvements at Ewood, Brockhall (undersoil heating and UV lighting rigs to name two) to consider.

 

If we have a change of ownership, who knows?

 

 

Can you comment on the takeover position?

 

I’m sure you appreciate that I can’t say anything. We are all bound by confidentiality agreements and rightly so.

 

I have argued in successive annual reports to Shareholders that to move forward, perhaps even to stand still, we need new investment.

 

We are enjoying a long and sustained period of success relative to our resources, the envy of many, but we can’t rely on over-performance forever.

 

Personally I wanted to preserve Jack’s legacy and 10 years on I think that’s been achieved.

 

If we are to go forward into a new era of achieving success on and off the field it would be marvellous.

 

In the meantime we have to ensure we have a stable club.

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