By Rob Stewart
Wigan chairman Dave Whelan has encouraged Blackburn owners Venky’s to face the music and hold clear-the-air talks with the club’s disgruntled fans.
Whelan, who used to play for Rovers, urged the club’s Indian hierarchy to mend bridges with supporters who vented their fury towards them on Monday after relegation was confirmed by a 1-0 defeat to Wigan at Ewood Park.
Angry Rovers fans hit out at Venky’s and manager Steve Kean throughout the game that ensured the side would fall out of the Premier League for the first time since the 1998-99 season.
In the wake of their demise, Whelan has called upon Pune-based Venky’s to sort out their differences with unhappy supporters in an effort to ensure the club makes an instant return from the Championship.
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Whelan spoke out after it emerged Rovers deputy chief executive officer Paul Hunt had asked the club’s owners to relieve manager Steve Kean of his duties in December, according to a confidential letter leaked on Tuesday.
“I hope their [Venky’s] relationship with the fans can be repaired. I think the way forward for them is for her [Anuradha Desai] to sit down, listen a little and accept some advice and talk to the supporters,” Whelan told Goal.com.
“I think you have got to talk to the supporters. They are very knowledgeable people who have been watching football for a very long time. They owners of football clubs have got to be associated with supporters. You have to listen to them and you have got to be part of them.
“It would be a shame if they backed off and sold the club. They have paid good money for it. I just think things will settle down. They need to take a little bit of advice, meet the fans and put things right.”
The Bradford-born, Wigan-raised sports retail tycoon, who helped Rovers reach the 1960 FA Cup final where his team suffered defeat at the hands of Wolves, is even offering to personally help his old club get back on track.
“I would be willing to help them out without a doubt because I had 11 years there as a player,” the 75-year-old added. “They looked after me wonderfully well and I would help them out in any shape or form. All they have to do is ask.
“I have never met the lady [Anuradha Desai] who runs Rovers. It just seems a shame that they are interested in football in the UK and they have got a great club like Blackburn and from what I hear she is not listening to people who are trying to give her advice.
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“I would love to meet her and talk to here to see if she will take a little bit of advice from people who have been in the game for a long while. It is not easy to pick up a Premier League club and run it.
“Some foreign people think it is a piece of cake to do and it isn’t. You have got to have experience and knowledge of it. There are some good people at Blackburn who understand it and if she listened a little to them it would help.”