Blackburn face fire sale as 10m deadline is missed
Blackburn”s stunning victory at Old Trafford will not alleviate fans’ concerns over the club’s future.
Rovers have not paid Barclays any of the 10million the bankers wanted by December 31 to allay fears of a funding crisis — and it is inevitable that Rovers will embark on a player sell-off in this month’s transfer window to raise cash instead.
The astonishing 3-2 win was achieved with Blackburn’s youngest ever Premier League starting line-up (average age 23 years and 320 days) and could even strengthen co-owner Anuradha Desai’s resolve that a young team, guided by Steve Kean, can stay up.
Sales talk: Venkatash Rao (right) and brother Balaji may embark on a player sell-off
The club’s star assets include 21-year-old Canadian winger Junior Hoilett, the Congolese centre-half Chris Samba, 27, and French midfielder Steven N’Zonzi, 23, and it is expected that one or more of those will be disposed of, with others sold or released.
Inside Sport revealed the Barclays cash demand last month, the 10m being requested both verbally and in writing.
Sources say the club’s Indian owners, the Rao family, who own the Venky’s poultry conglomerate, want to use the club’s own resources rather than any new cash injection to keep the club going for now.
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A sell-off strategy has already been heavily hinted at in Blackburn’s accounts for the year ending June 2011, which were sent this week to minor shareholders.
The accounts acknowledge that the club need ‘significant’ funding to stay afloat between now and June 2013, and while Venky’s say they are ready to pay bills, it is the ‘net proceeds of any player trading’ that remain the first-choice option for cash.
The accounts raise more questions than answers in some places, including why Rovers made a player trading loss of 13.8m during a financial year in which they only signed two players on a permanent basis: Ruben Rochina from Barcelona for €450,000 (just less than 400,000 at the time) and Mauro Formica from Newell’s Old Boys for 3.2m.
Clubs typically ‘amortise’ transfer costs, or in laymen’s terms, pay them over the term of the player’s contract, at least for accounting purposes. But amortisation of buys from earlier years does not come close to explaining the full 13.8m.
A chunk will be agents’ fees, though how much is impossible to tell. Official Premier League figures show Rovers spent 4.2m on agents’ fees in the year to 30 September 2011, a different 12-month period to Rovers’ accounts.
Fees: Blackburn”s purchase of Ruben Rochina earned the Spaniard”s agent 1.6m
Inside Sport revealed in August that 1.65m alone went to the agent in the Rochina signing. I can disclose that agents were due 500,000 from the Formica deal and earned commission from summer purchases including Yakubu and David Goodwillie.
Those summer fees are not included in the accounts to June. And it is understood that on top of agents’ fees that are included in the accounts, Blackburn spent a sevenfigure sum on non-agent consultancy fees in the financial year.
The club have declined to comment.
SPOTY needs an Olympic boost
The BBC Sports Personality of the Year show attracted the fewest total votes of the phone-in era as well as a year-on-year ratings slump — but it is expected to bounce back in December, with betting already open on who will win in London Olympics year.
The only non-Olympian in the top 10 in the lists so far is Andy Murray, currently third favourite behind heptathlete pin-up Jess Ennis (5-1 fav) and distance runner Mo Farah (8-1).
Then come a string of GB Olympians hoping for glory – Becky Adlington, Victoria Pendleton, Tom Daley, Ben Ainslie, Mark Cavendish, Sir Chris Hoy, Paula Radcliffe and others – before some golfers and Formula One drivers appear.
Up for the cup: Sports Personality of the Year 2011, Mark Cavendish
With respect to Murray, history suggests an Olympian will triumph in SPOTY in 2012 whatever the Scot achieves, although a Wimbledon-Olympics double would set the cat among the pigeons.
Hoy (2008), Kelly Holmes (2004) and Steve Redgrave (2000) were the SPOTY winners in the previous three Olympic years, and the shortlists in those years were chock full of Olympians.
Cavendish’s recent victory came via 169,152 votes, from a total cast of 341,959. That was down by more than half on 2010’s total votes of 698,000, while the last Olympic year had 718,000.
Inside Sport thinks you could do worse than place a few quid each way on swimmer Fran Halsall (a potential Olympic swimming star with a personality, too) or David Beckham (going for gold and the housewives’ vote), both available at 33-1 or longer. For now.
Up for grabs now: James Ellington
A British athlete who will do well just to reach the London Olympics is sprinter James Ellington, who put himself up for sale on auction website eBay before Christmas.
The 26-year-old Briton ran the 200m at the world championships in Daegu but missed out on the semi-finals with the 24th-fastest qualifying time.
Various setbacks have meant that he receives only limited Lottery funding and he has no sponsors. Hence his appearance on eBay.
Ellington attracted one bidder who offered 32,500 and others at around 30,000 to help fund him until the summer in exchange for promotional opportunities.
‘We’re not sure all the bids were genuine but we’re confident some were and I hope to pin down the winning bidder shortly,’ he tells me. A deal with a corporate bidder is expected imminently.