Simon Garner expresses his opinions on Venkys, Kean and BRSIT’s attempts to buy the club back in an exclusive interview with Andrew Howells...
Blackburn Rovers legend and all time top goal scorer, Simon Garner, is now spokesperson for the Blackburn Rovers Supporters Investment Trust (BRSIT), an organisation looking to work with fans to buy the club back from its confused, clueless and controversial Indian owners, Venky’s. And Garner had one vital, shout it from the rooftops, Winston Churchill-like message for Rovers fans: ‘Your club needs you’.
Garner expressed his feelings on the future of the one-time Premier League champions, BRSIT’s success so far in their efforts and his opinions about Venky’s in an exclusive interview with Andrew Howells.
‘Without the fans there will be no football club’
“I got involved with the Trust as I am worried about the football club, the direction it’s going in and I believe like many fans we could be the next Bradford and fall through the leagues,” said Garner.
“The Trust has the best interest of Blackburn Rovers at heart and we want as many fans as possible to get behind us. I would say to the fans: ‘Your club needs you’”.
BRSIT is rallying Rovers fan base, asking fans to pledge £1,000 each to purchase a share in their club - on which they will get a return on their investment - in order to raise enough money to make a bid before the season starts. The Trust’s sole aim is to bring ownership of the club back into the community and away from the current owners.
Blackburn had 16,000 season ticket holders last season. If every one of them pledged to buy one £1,000 share, the Trust would have £16 million in pledges, which would put them in a strong position to make a bid.
However, true to form, Garners says that Venky’s has refused every invitation to communicate with the Trust over the past six months. They have even refused to communicate with the Trust’s Managing Director, Wayne Wild, when he has asked to speak with them regarding the sponsorship deal his company, WEC Group Limited, has with Rovers.
Speaking about the potential outcome of any bid, Garner said: “At the end of the day, it’s down to the Venky’s. If they don’t want to sell club then they must begin to communicate with the fans and explain what they want to do with the club, otherwise it will get worse. The fans are the most important stakeholder. Without the fans there will be no football club.”
Confusing the confusion
Venky’s recently released a video in which they stated they were ‘confused’ about what to do next regarding the club and current manager Steve Kean, following relegation from the Premier League. The owners even went as far as to say they would need a month to sort it out. Garner believes they were just buying time and their message seems to have only made the fans angrier.
Indeed, commenting on recent reports that Steve Kean has offered former Rovers captain, Colin Hendry a coaching role, Garner said: “How can Venky’s say they are going to wait a month to make a decision about the manager and then the manager turns around and says he’s offering a coaching role to someone. It just makes you think that the Venky’s are sitting on the fence, hoping things will die down over the next month while they leave Steve Kean in charge.
“Half way through last season I felt sorry for him [Kean] as he got no voice from board, was being the spokesperson as well as managing club, but at end of the day 99% of football clubs would have sacked him by now following his poor performances.
“Because he has lost the fans, there is no way back for him now. There will be hardly anyone watching us if Kean is say still in charge six games into next season and we haven’t won a game.”
Garner on Venky’s and why fans should support BRSIT
Garner believes that Venky’s infrequently and poor communication with its biggest assets, its fans, is indicative of their attitudes in putting their ruthless business plan before the best interests of the club.
On Venky’s, Garner commented: “They don’t communicate with the fans and they haven’t done since the day they took over. They are too far away and have taken too long to realise what football is all about. Their eyes were not wide open and they don’t realise how passionate our fans are. The Trust is our way, the fans way, of being able to do something about the situation the club is currently in.
“I’m sure if Venky’s had decisions to make concerning their business in India, they wouldn’t wait a month to do it and I can’t understand why they are saying they want to wait a month now. They need to act now as a month is a long time in football. Whoever is manager is going to need to get a squad together to get Rovers back into the Premier League and that’s why I think they don’t understand.
“It seems like they are hiding in India. It seems to me they have got a business plan, they are out for themselves and they are putting that above the best interests of the club and the fans.
“This is why I am urging fans to support BRSIT. As I said, we have the best interests of the fans at heart, I believe we have proven that with the proposal we are offering and Wayne Wild is very open to any individual or groups who wish to get involved.”
With the clubs recent decision to appoint former Press Officer and Kean's only ally, Paul Agnew as General Manager, many fans took to Twitter stating 'the game is now up', 'Venkys Out' and 'I will definitely be asking for a refund on my season ticket now'.
Garner said:“We need the fans to pledge to the Trust. The fans have all the power and we can save our football club”
You can find out more about the Trust and how to pledge to buy shares with BRSIT on their website, at www.brsit.co.uk.