Blackburn Allardyce sacking poor business decision by Rao family
COMMENT: There's no escaping it. It's a blunder, a massive blunder.
The sacking of Sam Allardyce by the Rao family will set their plans back at Blackburn Rovers months - possibly over a year - and I'm not talking just about things on the pitch.
I'm sure the Raos would have been warned of the backlash of dismissing Big Sam from the football community - and rightly so - but I question whether their advisers actually cautioned them against dispensing of someone so capable and qualified of fast-tracking the plans they have for the club.
Allardyce stands alone in his ability to convince big-name, iconic players to join middle-ranked clubs - the sort of names that the Raos would love to have running around at Ewood Park and associated with Venky's to help sell their club and their company around the world.
Jay-Jay Okocha, Youri Djorkaeff, Nicolas Anelka and Fernando Hierro. All players with huge global profiles - and all players who bought into Big Sam's vision while he was in charge of Bolton Wanderers. He even had Guti lined up for the summer, only Rovers' lack of spending power, as the Walker Trust waited for Venky's to buy them out, prevented Allardyce from signing the Real Madrid legend ahead of Besiktas.
No-one in the game has the record of Allardyce in doing such deals at clubs of the profile of Rovers. It'll be the biggest hurdle the Raos will have to overcome - convincing big-name players, who have seen and done it all, to take a chance on a career with Rovers - and they've just dumped the best qualified man in the game to make it happen.
The vision Venky's chairwoman Anuradha Desai has set out for Blackburn is exciting - though it may alienate a significant section of the local support. Images of Akon and Lennox Lewis in Rovers shirts on the club's official website have been criticised in some quarters - just as talk has of Diego Maradona becoming involved.
But this is the territory of the new Blackburn. It has to be about association with celebrities, delivering an audience and media coverage to satisfy bigger paying sponsors. The Maradona story was eventually shot down by Desai, but press and media across South and Latin America devoted coverage to Blackburn during the days the speculation was allowed to run. All of a sudden, millions of people on the other side of the globe were thinking and talking about Blackburn - when before they may not even have been aware of the club.
Venky's ambitions of establishing a profile in India and bringing through the first Indian Premier League star are not as far-fetched as Desai's critics have suggested. in the week Venky's bought Rovers, India's richest man, Mukesh Ambani, through his Reliance company's partnership with IMG, announced a $156 million joint venture to take charge of Indian football for the next 15 years.
Ambani and IMG Reliance have plans to give local football the same boost as the Indian Premier League has given cricket.
India are also in next month's Asian Cup for the first time - with football's powerbrokers anxiously waiting to see how the public will receive the tournament with their nation on show.
With the Raos now controlling a Premier League club, the stars are aligning for football in India as we enter a new decade.
What's most encouraging is that the push to make the game successful in India is being driven by private companies, owned by successful, high achievers.
Which makes the sudden decision from Rovers to dismiss Allardyce all the more baffling.