Kate Hollern MP

Working Hard for Blackburn

Letter to Blackburn Rovers F.C.

Last Friday I wrote to Blackburn Rovers F.C. after receiving many messages from concerned fans. The letter was sent ahead of Saturday's 1-1 draw with Burton Albion and therefore references the losing start to the season. 

I put the following questions to the club; 

1) Given the club’s poor start to the current football season could you share with me your short term and long term ambitions for Blackburn Rovers?

2) In recent years much has been said of the debt that the club has suffered. As you will be fully aware, financial irregularity in football clubs can have wide reaching implications, including potentially resulting in points deductions to the extent that clubs are automatically relegated. On this basis can you advise me as to what the current financial state of the club is and what assessment has been made as to the financial security of the club?

3) Finally, you will be aware that the supporters of the club are looking to hold various public meetings and engagement exercises. In respect of these would you be willing to participate in such dialogue?

Copy of full letter below 

"Mr Mike Cheston
Director
Blackburn Rovers Football Club
Ewood Park
BLACKBURN BB2 4JF

19th August 2016

Dear Mr Cheston

I write to you in your capacity as a Director at Blackburn Rovers Football Club.

As you will be aware, recently I have received many messages from my constituents relaying their deep concern about how the club is being managed at this time. The club currently sits at the bottom of the Championship league table having lost the first three matches of the season.

I note that these concerns are not new, I myself met with senior figures from Blackburn Rovers Football Club some years ago, in my former capacity as leader of Blackburn with Darwen Borough Council. A fact that sadly cannot be ignored is that the club has shown a general decline since the current regime took ownership in 2010, being relegated from the Premier League after two seasons, falling to the lower reaches of the Championship, and then settling in the upper half of mid-table. But it is this season’s extremely poor start that has caused renewed concerns. Many fans have predicted this decline to me, pointing out that as successful players have been sold off it is inevitable that without the suitable talent on the pitch it just is not possible for the club to compete at senior level.

I am reminded of the fact that Blackburn Rovers FC has a long and glorious record of success in English Football, being one of the founder members of the Football League in 1888, having won the FA Cup on six occasions, the Football League twice, being founder members of the Premier League in 1992 and winning that league in 1995, the club have also won the League Cup. Their record is one of, if not the most successful outside of the metropolitan areas of England. Add to that the significance to the local economy of the club. At its peak, when the current owners purchased Blackburn Rovers FC from the Walker family average crowds were around 20,000 and capacity 30,000+ crowds remained a regular occurrence.

The club undoubtedly put Blackburn on not only a national but a global map, attracting visitors and in turn investors from across the world. To this day, and despite the decline, the club contributes significantly to the Blackburn economy, both directly through staff employed and indirectly through the retail and support sectors. On this basis the fate of Blackburn Rovers is of massive importance to our town. And in a town that has been described as ‘football mad’ Blackburn Rovers is truly a community asset, and whilst not everyone in Blackburn is a Rovers supporter, most in the town understand and acknowledge the club’s importance – as is borne out by the response that I have received since raising this issue on social media this week.

In light of this context, I would very much appreciate your views on a number of issues.

Given the club’s poor start to the current football season could you share with me your short term and long term ambitions for Blackburn Rovers?

In recent years much has been said of the debt that the club has suffered. As you will be fully aware, financial irregularity in football clubs can have wide reaching implications, including potentially resulting in points deductions to the extent that clubs are automatically relegated. On this basis can you advise me as to what the current financial state of the club is and what assessment has been made as to the financial security of the club?

Finally, you will be aware that the supporters of the club are looking to hold various public meetings and engagement exercises. In respect of these would you be willing to participate in such dialogue?

I look forward to hearing from you soon and if you would like to meet, please contact my office to arrange a mutually convenient time.

With all good wishes
Yours sincerely

Kate Hollern MP"

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