>
My tribe

Does Ahsan Ali Syed have Blackburn best interests at heart?

tribalfootball.com's Ian Ferris reflects on the prospect of his beloved Blackburn Rovers being bought by Ahsan Ali Syed and asks whether the new owner will be good for the club.

  Back in the day, 1995 to be precise, Blackburn Rovers won the Premiership and were accused of buying the title.

Laughable really, as this was based on £3m for Alan Shearer and £5m for Chris Sutton plus assorted others, and all thanks to Jack Walker's money.

Today those transfer fees barely cover the wages of a top Premiership player and even the late, lamented Uncle Jack would have difficulty in competing with the billionaire status needed to buy a Premiership team in the 21st Century.

Manchester City have spent over £300m on players in the last two season's to try and become a successful top four team. Rovers are currently on the market for £300m. A bargain.

After the death of Jack Walker ten years ago it was the Walker Trust who took over his affairs, including his interest in Blackburn Rovers.

Now, Rovers were Uncle Jack's pride and joy and he was the driving force behind the club. The rest of the family were never that interested as it clearly didn't sit well within their conventional business empire.

As a result after initially carrying on as normal with the club, including at one time threatening to withdraw funding, subsequently reinstated, the Trustees have actively been trying to sell Rovers for the last three years.

Only in recent months have credible bidders emerged, and currently an Indian billionaire Mr Ashan Ali Syed is carrying out due diligence on the club with the intention of a takeover of around £300m with £100m given to boss Sam Allardyce as a transfer kitty.

As with all Premiership takeovers all sorts of rumours are swirling around our would-be new owner. Dodgy deals, failed companies and suspect business partners are all par for the course, and let's not forget you don't become a billionaire without cutting a few corners.

My reservation is more to do with his motives for buying the club.

He makes all the usual noises for the purchase - in it for the long term, not looking to make a profit on a quick sale, blah, blah.

No, my concern is more a fear of the unknown. Rovers have always looked on themselves a small town cub who punch above their weight, and in the increasing sophisticated world of the Premiership have never lost that connection with the community.

Under the stewardship of chief executive John Williams Blackburn are a well run club who have manageable debt, live within their means and are unlikely ever to take a risk even if it meant relegation. Survival of the club is paramount.

Uncle Jack was a local lad 'made good' and the Trustees have tried to carry on that tradition. Now we are faced with a foreign owner who may not realise the tradition they are inheriting and need to preserve.

I appreciate Rovers can't operate in a time-warp and money talks in the Premiership, and the more you have the more you are likely to survive and prosper in the top flight rather that existing on the margins of relegation every season.

But I only need to look at the likes of Liverpool, Manchester United and Portsmouth to see examples of how it can all go wrong. The former two are still seen as a success but not in the eyes of their supporters who resent what the foreign owners have inflicted on their club.

As for Pompey, they went into administration and almost folded because of the financial mismanagement of a series of overseas owners.

Now I accept risks have to be taken, and quite frankly we need the investment to prevent constant struggles against the drop, and there are some foreign owners who exert a positive influence on proceedings.

My niggles are around some of the comments made by Mr Syed. He claims to have been a Blackburn Rovers supporter for some time…but has never actually been to Blackburn. Fair enough, many of us follow foreign teams without actually seeing them play, but we aren't forking out £300m on a product unseen!

Mr Syed also refused to say who his favourite player was. Perhaps, as a possible owner he doesn't want to be seen to have favourites…or he hasn't a clue who the player's are!

He also feels, as an Indian, he can tap into the Asian communities of Blackburn, thus increasing Rovers fan base at home and on the Indian sub-continent.

The club has constantly been trying to attract the minority communities of Blackburn to Ewood Park with varying degrees of success. Frankly, it will need players coming through from the Asian community to encourage fans to attend games, not just because we have an absent billionaire Indian owner.

We also have ludicrous statements from the Syed camp claiming they will try and attract David Beckham to Ewood Park. There is more chance of Elvis being found alive and well and working in Burger King…

To be fair Syed, should he be successful with his takeover, is happy to continue with the existing management structure and has no plans for wholesale changes.

Presumably though, if Big Sam fails to spend his war chest wisely our impatient Indian owner will certainly look to ring the changes. And frankly I'm not sure I'd trust Sam to spend my £100m!

And what will £100m achieve? Allardyce has admitted that even with this amount of money it won't change Rovers into a top four outfit.

What I can see it doing is changing the whole ethos of the club and in doing so something at Ewood Park will be lost.

But realistically we are fighting against the tide, if Blackburn, or any club for that matter, want to survive in the Premiership they need a rich owner to bankroll their tenure.

Ideally this would be someone with a local connection, but nowadays being a millionaire simply isn't enough so overseas investment is the only way forward.

Of course there is still no certainty of silverware or Premiership survival, for as a Clint Eastwood character once said, "If you want a guarantee, buy a toaster!"

About the author

Have your say
  • Add your favourite leagues and clubs
  • Build your own personal news stream
  • Easily share your favourite stories
  • Connect with what your friends are saying

Select your favourite
leagues and clubs
to get started.

Already part of MyTribe?