London (AFP) – Blackburn Rovers’ Indian owners Venky’s insist they are “deeply hurt” after the club’s shocking decline hit a new low with relegation to England’s third tier for the first time since 1980.
Crowned English champions 22 years ago when they memorably pipped Manchester United to the Premier League title, Blackburn suffered a humiliating exit from the Championship on the final day of the season on Sunday.
Rovers won 3-1 at Brentford, but victories for Nottingham Forest and Birmingham City ensured Tony Mowbray’s side were unable to escape the bottom three.
Alan Shearer and Chris Sutton, the strikers who scored 49 goals between them in Blackburn’s title-winning campaign, pointed the finger of blame at Venky’s, with Shearer claiming they “deserve it”.
The Rao family, who purchased the club when they were still in the Premier League in 2010, have presided over a string of disastrous decisions, from the moment they announced their arrival by sacking Sam Allardyce.
Slammed by Blackburn fans who want them to sell the club, Venky’s made a rare public statement on Monday in a bid to convince their critics that the club’s relegation is only a temporary blip.
“The owners of Blackburn Rovers wish to place on record their appreciation for the work of manager Tony Mowbray since his arrival at the club, during which time both the performances of the team and results have improved significantly,” the statement read.
“Going forward he will continue to have our full support. Despite the courageous performance by the players and the victory at Brentford yesterday, results elsewhere led to the relegation of the club from the Championship.
“This is indeed a very sad situation and we are deeply hurt by these events. We share the same feelings as our supporters.
“Notwithstanding this temporary setback, we are confident that the collective efforts of the team, under Tony’s leadership, will enable the club to achieve promotion back to the Championship next season.
“We have all witnessed the events of recent years, where teams have been relegated but have turned their clubs around and emerged stronger, and we are determined to see Blackburn Rovers do the same.”