‘Blackburn Rovers is my lifelong commitment’ – Venky’s Managing Director Balaji Rao vows to stick with the club

Rao also defended the decision to sack Michael Appleton, while still expressing hope of getting promoted. He also spoke of his plans for football in India...


By Ayush Srivastava

It has been a season of continued transition and upheaval at Blackburn Rovers this campaign, and the club recently sacked Michael Appleton as the manager of the side, making him the third permanent manager to be handed the dreaded pink slip this season.

While the decision to let go of the former Blackpool boss was met with wide-spread dismay amongst the fans of the Lancashire based club, Venky’s Managing Director Balaji Rao though, felt it was necessary to sack the Englishman, in order to save the club from being relegated from the Championship.

“I want to go up (get promoted) and not go down, period. Mathematically (we could get relegated), and I don’t want us to go down,” Rao told Goal.com, as the reason to let go of Appleton.

The Venky’s Managing Director also revealed that interim manager Gary Bowyer shall continue in the role till the end of the season.  He confirmed, “Gary Bowyer will continue to be the manager for the rest of the season.”

Having gone through three different managers this season, the Venky’s have decided to not pursue another candidate for the top job, until the end of the campaign. Rao also claimed that the club wasn’t just looking to avoid relegation, but actually hoping to still make the play-offs in the Championship.

Balaji Rao vows to stick with the club...

“Let this season finish (and then we shall have a look at the managerial scenario). For this season, we are not looking to just avoid relegation as we think we still have a chance to go up,” informed the Venky’s Managing Director.

Rao also brushed aside all the rumours of the Venky’s possibly selling the club in the future, even if they did get relegated. He also expressed his feelings for the fans and said, “Blackburn Rovers is my lifelong commitment. I love the fans (of the club).”

Blackburn Rovers was also in the news lately for loaning out their striker Edinho Junior to Indian club Shillong Lajong. Explaining why he decided to send the youngster all the way to the I-League from the Championship, the Venky’s Managing Director commented, “Edinho is a good player and this is good exposure for him. It is also the first time that somebody with his caliber has come to India.”

Revealing his long-term plans in India, Rao also expressed his wish to use the Blackburn Rovers brand in Indian football. He stated, “For Indian football we have great plans. We are getting our own stadium up, and we are also looking forward to starting an academy.”

“We are also planning to have our own team here in India. We will 100% use Blackburn Rovers’ brand for the (Indian) club,” he further added.

The Venky’s Managing Director also spoke of his preference for the city of Pune, to set up his I-League club.

“Yes I think  I would prefer Pune, since I am from the city itself,” he concluded.

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