BLACKBURN Rovers fans groups have called for an end to the Ewood Park ‘decline’ after relegation to the third tier for the first time in almost 40 years.
Rovers suffered their second relegation in five years under the ownership of the Rao family who purchased the club in November 2010.
Since then Rovers have dropped out of the Premier League and gradually slipped down the Championship table, culminating in relegation last weekend.
The last set of club accounts revealed that loans from the Rao family now total £110million, a figure that will only continue to rise as the club face up to the prospect of a huge drop in annual turnover which stood at £22million.
The Blackburn Rovers Action Group (BRAG) have been campaigning against the club’s owners since 2012 and they have again called on the Rao family to sell up.
A statement released in the wake of relegation from the Championship read: “Supporters and community groups have called for the club’s owners to communicate and begin to support their ‘baby’ and these calls have remained unheeded.
“Since that ill-fated day in November 2010 when Venkateshwara Hatcheries purchased Blackburn Rovers, this famous football club has been in a decline which the owners seem both unable and uninterested in halting.
“The statement released by the owners on Monday was an insult to the supporters of Blackburn Rovers, who are in agreement by a vast majority that these people are not fit and proper to run their football club.
“The supporters of Blackburn Rovers are issuing a vote of no confidence in the board of directors and the owners of their club and the only acceptable outcome for the supporters is for Venkateshwara Hatcheries to sell the club with immediate effect.”
Rovers finance director Mike Cheston admitted earlier this year that the club were reliant on funding from the Indian owners, and Rovers Trust chairman John Murray anticipates it will take even more capital in the 2017-18 season to keep the club on an even keel.
He said: “It’s been a decade of decline and destruction. We need a cash injection.
“It (the club’s financial position) is so stark that it almost needs the exhibition of the fierce loyalty of the Rovers supporters and the natural resilience of Lancashire people.
“The club is not just about the management or the team, it’s about the legacy, the history and the community.
“The team is going to need virtually dismantling and trying, as Owen Coyle did, to put a team together is going to be really difficult.
“Our club is poorly run, leading to dangerous decision-making. The owners of our club have no feel for the football business, and at best have been badly advised.
“No-one in the hierarchy at our club has a full appreciation of its heritage, and the fierce loyalty we have as fans.
“Rovers supporters are the only ones who will stand up to protect our legacy and future.”
It promises to be a summer of uncertainty at Ewood and the club’s director of football operations Paul Senior resigned from his role within 24 hours of relegation.
The Action Group believe that Cheston, who has been in his role since January 2014, should also stand down.
They said: “Within 24 hours of relegation we saw the departure of Paul Senior, director of football operations and yet another unnamed generic message from the owners.
“Employees are uncertain of their futures, local businesses are suffering and Ewood Park once again has an operating boardroom that consists of just Mike Cheston.
“We once again call for Mike Cheston to do the right thing and walk away from his position at the club.”
Trust chairman Murray was interviewed by BBC football programme Football Focus in the lead-up to the Brentford game which, despite a 3-1 victory, was where Rovers’ Championship fate was sealed.
But it was during that interview he said he truly appreciated the infrastructure that Jack Walker put in place at the club during his tenure.
He added: “Mark Clemmit was down from the BBC and we were standing outside the Jack Walker statue and he was astounded by the quality of the infrastructure at Ewood Park.
“The bricks, the club shop, the Blackburn End, the pictures, the TV screen, all that, and these are things on a matchday that you walk past without really noticing.
“When it’s completely empty you realise the legacy of Jack Walker.
“You are left feeling that all of that is being quietly dismantled by the owners at the moment.”
Murray says the Trust will now look to push forward something of a ‘regeneration programme’ and look at ways of inviting fans back to the club should the Venky’s walk away.
More than 15,000 Rovers fans watched the final home game of the season, a 1-0 win over Aston Villa, something which provided Murray with some hope for the future.
The two supporters groups are also joined in their backing of the work done by head coach Tony Mowbray since taking charge of the team in February.
“Head coach Tony Mowbray inherited a team that appeared low in confidence, belief, fitness and tactical awareness,” the Action Group added.
“Given just 15 games to pull off a great escape, the gap proved just too big with Rovers being relegated on goal difference despite losing just three of those 15 matches and picking up 11 points from the last five fixtures. If the season started the day Tony Mowbray took charge and ended on Sunday, Rovers would have been a top 10 team.
“Fans are left asking could this have been avoided if Owen Coyle had been dismissed when it became clear that his appointment was an abject failure?”
A Blackburn Rovers spokesman said: “A lot of hard work is going on behind the scenes and we hope to be able to comment further in due course.”
For more information on the Trust visit www.roverstrust.co.uk. For details on the Action Group visit their Twitter via @BRFCActionGroup.
Acknowledgement to Lancashire Telegraph