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GALLERY: Heartbreak as Blackburn Rovers are relegated
ON one of the darkest days in their history Blackburn Rovers were relegated from the Premier League amid scenes of heartbreak and fury.
Their desperate 1-0 defeat in pouring rain at the hands of fellow strugglers Wigan Athletic consigned them to the Championship after 11 years in the top flight.
After the final whistle at Ewood Park chants of ‘Kean out’, ‘Stand up if you hate Venky’s’ and ‘Venky’s out’ rang around the stadium, as they had throughout the match.
Around 30 to 40 supporters ran on to the pitch to express their disgust.
Several hundred Rovers fans stayed behind to vent their anger, and some threw tennis balls with ‘Kean out’ written on them, but the vast majority trooped out in silence, their spirits dampened by the disastrous end to the season.
Outside Ewood around 100 fans braved the weather to mount a protest at the Ronnie Clayton Blackburn End, with fans singing ‘We want our Rovers back’ and ‘Rovers ’til I die’.
Some fans even attempted to get back into the ground to vent their frustrations at the team’s plight.Before the match, as nervous fans were making their way to the stadium, a small aircraft was flown over Ewood with a banner which read: “In Venky’s We Trust – Burnley SU”.
The tense atmosphere began early with chants against both Kean and Venky’s from just the fifth minute. Even a chicken being thrown on to the pitch failed to distract a large section of the support from their protests.
But as the conditions deteriorated and the heavens opened Rovers’ efforts were to no avail.
The club’s relegation is the culmination of a downward spiral since Venky’s took over the club.Their remote style of management has been deeply unpopular with the fans, and decisions to jettison proven manager Sam Allardyce and experienced chairman John Williams have proved to be disastrous.
Fans have made their feelings known all season only to be wrongly vilified by some sections of the national media and football establishment.
Last night’s match had begun with Rovers needing a win to stand any chance of staying up. They would then have had to go to Chelsea on Sunday and record another victory and hope that results elsewhere went their way.
After the game Rovers fans lined up to condemn the management of the club over the past 12 months.
Fashion designer Wayne Hemingway described the team’s relegation as “a disaster” and said: “It is disgusting what has happened, and the culpability lies with the owners.
“I have got no idea what their ultimate aim is, but whatever they are doing they have wrecked the club and done serious, grievous damage to the town.”
The relegation represents a massive blow to the area.
Blackburn MP Jack Straw said: “It is very sad, not just for the club and its supporters but for the whole town.
“It is depressing. It is aggravating and it shouldn’t have happened.
“Over the years a lot of teams who get relegated get back.
“We did it in 1992 and in 2001. In fact I think this is the longest spell we have had in the top flight since the end of the war.”
After the match Kean said he was devastated but he would ‘live to fight another day’.
The club’s owners, who were not to be seen at the match, are now likely to be under even more pressure to let him go.