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May 8, 2012

Letter to Rovers owners leaked

A letter from Blackburn Rovers' deputy chief executive Paul Hunt to the club's owners has been leaked in which he warned of the need for further investment and called for the removal of manager Steve Kean.

• Jolly: Fowl night as Rovers go down
• Venky's: No plans to sell

The latter, which Hunt has confirmed is genuine, was sent in December when fears over relegation were growing stronger.

The latter, published on Sportingintelligence.com, saw Hunt asking Venky's to "make some significant changes to save the club, perhaps from relegation but also perhaps from administration".

As part of a ten-point plan, Hunt wrote: "Publicly I have been asked to support the manager and I always have as I personally like Steve. I have supported him from the start and have been desperate for him to do well.

"However, I am now of the opinion that it isn't working and he is ready to go. He has lost the crowd and as a result of this evening's game has lost the dressing room as well - the players no longer want to play for him. It is a shame and disappointing but we must act now to save the club. The board should be asked their opinion in who should be the new manager."

Problems with the club's finances were made public in the press and Hunt had warned that players would legally be allowed to annul their contracts.

"As you are aware Barclays have asked for the owners to put £10m into the business. This needs to happen and I am confident that this could only be a loan as we would increase the value of the club significantly.

"With all the speculation in the press the playing staff value and overall club value is depreciating on a daily basis. By putting an end to this the owners would be protecting their investment, putting their trust in the executive team and the club. The position with the finances is a cause for grave concern. Auditors KPMG have put as many obstacles as they can in the way of signing off the accounts due to their concerns. We continue to try and work with Barclays but they are very quickly losing patience as we cannot give answers.

"During January we need additional funding to pay wages etc. Scottish club Hearts did not pay their players in November and have effectively breached their contracts. By law (supported by FIFA) the players can now annul their contracts, seek other clubs and still chase the club for payment of their wages. Clearly, the club will not receive any fee for any transfers."

Hunt also advised the owners that fans were abandoning the club at an "alarming rate" and suggested kit suppliers Umbro could follow suit.

"I am concerned we will lose Umbro if we continue to manufacture Rovers shirts in India for the RoverStar programme. Their contract specifically disallows this and we are putting at risk £800k of annual revenue. The Blackburn Rovers and Venky's brands are both suffering terribly. Whilst there are negative goings on such as protests, complaints, media stories, unhappy fans etc, then both brands are losing brand equity and consequently, losing value."

Hunt, who also sought a promotion to CEO and "a relatively modest increase" in salary in his letter, told the owners that he was acting in the club's best interests.

"Please don't view this as me questioning the owners unjustly," he wrote. "Please be reassured that I do question things, it means I am doing things right for the club and the owners by not accepting things lightly. This is how I work and how I must continue to work to get the best for Blackburn Rovers. With my experience of Blackburn now and my previous experience at three other prominent clubs, I do feel as though my suggestions come from a position of strength and can make a huge difference to life at Blackburn Rovers."

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