My heart bleeds for Blackburn Football Club.
Yes, that’s right. Blackburn. Not Pool.
The uncharitable ‘serves him right’ was my first thought when news of manager Michael Appleton’s sacking broke.
But it’s not on really, is it?
We may whinge about Blackpool’s bosses but would we want the Venky’s in charge of our club?
They are bringing a once glorious Lancashire club to its knees.
They never bought into the fact that a footie club is the sum total of its parts, and history, and not just about results.
It’s about a sense of identity, a community standing shoulder to shoulder on the terraces to cheer their lads on.
The fact that it was raised so high by its supreme champion investor Jack Walker makes its fall from grace all the more lamentable – and not just by its supporters but the rest of us who love football.
One falls, we all fall, and yet there’s little to nothing fans can do to halt the rot there, other than vote with their feet and walk away and leave the players to an empty stadium bereft of dreams.
And no true fan wants to do that because this battle has nothing to do with what’s happening on the field but everything to do with absentee landlords in the boardroom. Why buy a football team? Is it just a status symbol? A box to tick like some Russian oligarch with cash to spare and toys to buy? Why buy if you don’t care enough to talk to your manager or sit in the directors’ box?
I had little time for Michael Appleton before he joined Blackpool FC and precious little after he ditched Blackpool in favour of Blackburn Rovers - his third club in two months.
If he wants to see the world he should be island hopping not club hopping.
He didn’t deserve this treatment but the writing was already on the wall.
Rovers binned big Sam Allardyce, the manager who kept the club in the Premier League from his 2008 appointment – then for reasons best known to themselves stuck by Steve Kean through thick and thin. He left with Rovers riding high in the Championship but knowing he would never ever be the fans’ choice - and probably have little say over which players he signed.
Blackpool’s never had a Jack Walker, a tax exile steel magnate who still turned out for matches and sunk £100m into his dream.
We’ve never had a Jack Straw, the Blackburn MP now fighting tooth and nail to keep his town’s football team from becoming the laughing stock of the league. But at least we haven’t got absentee landlords.
Venky’s, an Indian chicken empire, bought the club as part of their campaign for global recognition of their name and brand. Visit their website and you’ll find references to the Father of the Indian Poultry Industry. The firm recently opened Venky’s XPRS. a takeaway chain. Good for them. In fact it’s a supremely successful business. But football is nothing paltry. You don’t play chicken with it. Not unless you want to rebrand Blackburn as the Chicken Licken of clubs. The sky is falling, the sky is falling!