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Blackburn owners come under fire from key sponsor

Wed 23rd Nov 2011 | Football Sponsorship

Blackburn Rovers owner Venky’s has come under new pressure after one of the club’s major sponsors criticised their running of the Barclays Premier League team.

The poultry firm became the first Indian owners of a Premier League club when it completed its takeover in November 2010. However, Blackburn has endured a turbulent period since then. The Lancashire club avoided relegation on the final day of last season, but is currently 19th in this season’s table, four points away from safety. Venky’s continue to run the club from India and they, along with manager Steve Kean, have faced sustained fan protests this season.

Blackburn’s current situation has led to Wayne Wild, group director of the WEC Group, voicing his frustration at Venky’s approach to communicating with both corporate partners and fans. Venky’s this month denied reports that it is interested in selling the club, and Wild has revealed he has received no direct contact from the company, despite writing a letter of concern to them six weeks ago. “I don’t want to be treated like god, because we are not,” Wild told the Lancashire Telegraph. “We are a corporate sponsor and the owners have the authority and right to do what they see fit with the club. I just feel if I can’t get a reply – as the only paying corporate sponsor – that underlines the frustrations that general supporters are having, because there is no direct contact. We feel not valued. As well as the business side I have offered to mediate between the fans and the owners. I feel there is a growing gap between the two. Maybe if they could talk to me, I could relay that message to the fans.”

Engineering and fabricating company WEC has sponsored Blackburn for the past four years, but Wild admitted that the negative publicity surrounding the club is affecting the firm. He added: “Being a supporter is hard enough to take but paying for the privilege of sponsorship to be linked to this is both embarrassing and damaging to our company name and brand.”

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