How to save blackburn rovers?
Blackburn Rovers is on the verge of vanishing from the Premiership, its fans are frantically fighting against its obstinate owners and former players, present managers and even politicians are worried for the financial future of the 137 year old institution.
Is there a Clarke Kent like character hiding in the North West, casually contemplating a cunning change from mild-mannered man to knight in shining blue and white; cleverly concocting and cultivating a cool, calculated rescue of a club falling apart in front of its fans – and if so, how exactly do you save a football club?
1. Hatch a ‘Wild’ plan
Introducing Mr Wayne Wild; Blackburn fan, Director of the WEC Group Limited – a commercial partner and sponsor of Blackburn Rovers since 2008 – and one half of potentially the most popular pair of do-gooder’s to come out of Blackburn since Shearer and Sutton.
Wayne, along with Sweden-based American finance expert Daniel Grabko, have hatched a supporter-led plan, ‘to take ownership of Blackburn Rovers for the sole benefit of the club, the supporters and the community now and for the future’.
But just how do the Blackburn Rovers Supporters Investment Trust (BRSIT) plan on taking over the club from owners, Venky’s?
2. Steer clear of own goals and make sure the figures add up
The Trust is aiming to raise an initial sum of £10 million by selling 10,000 shares, which they will offer the club’s fans the chance to purchase, at £1,000 each.
As if saving your own football club was not enough motivation in itself, the Trust has come up with a way of offering investors a dividend of 5%. This means that each year, the club will pay £50 to each owner of a £1,000 share.
The Trust can do this because only a small proportion of Blackburn’s annual income is made of match-day revenue – £5.5m compared with the £42m the club receives from television rights and £9.5m commercially.
In fact, in 20 years, fans who have invested will have had their investment effectively paid back in dividends, but they will still be part-owner of THEIR own football club.
Or alternatively, as BRSIT state: “Ownership of five shares would give shareholder fans enough dividends to redeem the full cost of a season ticket each season for 20 years.”
So, with the sums sorted, time to get a big name on board to get the whole thing some media attention!
3. Garner support
Enter Rovers’ all time top goal scorer, Simon Garner: “I am a fan of Blackburn Rovers and always have been since I left the club and I don’t want to see it disappear. And I think there is a grave danger of that happening.
“I just want to save the football club and Wayne has come up with a good proposal and I am pleased to come on board and I am committed to it, full stop.”
With a name like Garner supporting the plan, the Trust has already received pledges totalling over £1 million and is on its way to achieving its £10 million target – although it is highly unlikely, after buying the club for a reported £23 million 18 months ago, Venky’s will sell for such a low figure.
So why only £10 million?
4. If you don’t shoot, you won’t score
In reality, it is unlikely that BRSIT will raise enough money to buy the club outright, especially if the club somehow remains in the Premier League. However, if the Trust do made it to their target of 10,000 pledges of £1,000, it would send out a strong message – not only to Venky’s, but also to wealthy investors.
20% of Swansea City for example, is owned by its Supporters Trust, so part-ownership may be another future option. Indeed, who is to say that an investor with lots of cash to burn – that is of course upholding of the very values that Rovers fans need in an owner – would not join the Trust after seeing such commitment, determination and guts from paying, loyal and loving fans.
And finally, who is to say that the fans with negative opinions of fan-based ownership schemes would not come out of the woodwork once they see that actually, it may just be possible.
Can Blackburn’s fans save their own club? Anything can happen in football.