Balancing Venky's 'Mission India' and the Blackburn cause - Edinho Junior's loan move yet another de-stabilizing act from the clueless owners

Debjit Lahiri looks in from the 'Blackburn Rovers point of view' as he discusses how the much discussed loan move of Edinho Junior to India, is yet another ownership blunder....
 Debjit Lahiri
 Feature | England, India
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"One foot cannot stand on two boats"
- A rather classic allegory for making a concrete commitment to one side of an issue over another. It's an argument against staking out a position in the middle or "sitting on the fence". If the boats drift apart, which they surely will eventually - metaphorically speaking - one finds their position untenable. One needs to make their choices then, and the sooner, the better!

But then again, "sitting on the fence" has it's advantages. Afterall, enjoying privileges from either sides, is a luxury, one would always like to have. But mind you, it's a LUXURY - thus meaning that it should only be availed once you have your "basic" necessities sorted. Vaguely, in a similar manner to the Maslow's hierarchy of human needs. Until and unless, you have your initial priorities achieved, you wouldn't risk for going out for a more "extravagant" need.

Well, as for Blackburn Rovers, such idealistic laws are far from from being followed - and certainly not for the right reasons!

When the Venky's took over Blackburn, it marked the first major breakthrough, on a trend that was otherwise fast gathering pace. India, by now, had a new generation of urban population, who religiously followed the English League, having pledged their loyalties to various big name clubs. So, taking over a team from the same league, made a lot of sense for the Indian owners.

Not only did it allow them to associate themselves with the glitz and glamour of European football, it also provided them with the ample scope of taking the club further ahead as a "global brand" - with a largely unexploited footballing market at disposal back home. The "project", as some would call it in modern football, had a massive potential, both on footballing grounds and financially.

However, things didn't turn out that well for the Venky's. Their lack of exposure and experience to professional football led to various horrendous decisions at the club board-room, which ultimately culminated into a massive fan rebellion, eventually pulling the team down from the top division to the Championship.

Now with the team drooling in the darkest corners of English Football, the fancy "mission India" should have been then and there put on hold. Atleast that's what the common logic tends to advice. At a time when things were far from ideal, winning back the disgruntled "existing" fan base and reconstructing the club hierarchy, sounds to be the more logical priorities - so that the club could again begin a successful quest towards getting back to the Premier League, from where on taking forward the so called "project" would again seem to be a possible and very much achievable dream.

Well, now , to be fair to them, they did, however, try to reconstruct the club structure, following the relegation. It is of course another matter, whether those decisions and appointments were themselves "appropriate" or not. Something that could be discussed for another day;  let's not get into that. For now, we focus on a move, that might look rather negligible from the grander scheme of things - especially with all the 'things' going around the club - but one that brutally exposes the naivety of the owners once again.

As early as last month, the club confirmed the loan move of talented Portuguese striker Edinho Junior to I-League relegation strugglers Shillong Lajong. Explaining why he decided to send the youngster all the way to India, the Venky’s Managing Director Balaji Rao commented in an exclusive interview with's Ayush Srivastava.
 “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.”
The move was met with unprecedented excitement in India. As indeed, a player of such caliber and one playing at the highest of levels, had rarely ever touched the shores of the country - to play for one of our own clubs. From India's point of view, it was a welcome development; something that the struggling footballing fraternity of the country could be proud of.

But let's be very honest here.. and in a very crude way - the whole opinion about providing "exposure" to a budding player of England's second highest league, in a country ranked way back into the fag end of the FIFA Rankings, is mind boggling Yes, very much so!

The sole motive of loaning a Blackburn player out in India, was once again to try and spread the Blackburn brand in India. And while from our end, it is a positive outcome; from the Rovers point of view, it does more harm than good. Or else, what kind of exposure would a struggling league could possibly provide to a player who is expected to play week and week out in the Championship in the near future, if not the Premier League? A logical loan move would have been somewhere in the lower leagues of England, or perhaps elsewhere in Europe.

                                     Exposure In The I-League? Whom Are We Kidding?

Not only did the owners not look into the better welfare of their own player, they opted for a "luxury" priority ahead of the immediate necessities of the club, that is, to create a better platform for development of their senior as well as youth players, so as to stage the earliest possible return into the top division. The 'publicity stunt' at the cost of hindering the growth of a possible future talent, could have easily waited.
Yes, the move certainly has it's right intentions, but does it come at the right time for the club? When the club is even contemplating a relegation fight to avoid the drop to the 3rd division? Absolutely NOT! Thus, once again, quite invariably, the owners falling victim to a ridiculous decision, that further distances themselves from their fans. The sooner they realize that, the better!

Of course, the Blackburn fans weren't too happy with the signing of Edinho Junior in the first place but to use that as the reason to send the player off to India to develop doesn't really make any sense.

Their owners have once again let them down. The club is languishing down at 18th on the table, and while the off field controversies go on, the owners are certainly not doing their bit in getting the little things right - to the let the fans atleast know that they're looking to work for the betterment of the club. On the contrary, decisions such as the one with Edinho Junior only raises doubts on their already fading credibility.

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