Patience of Venky's may run out, warns Rovers Trust finance officer

Venkatesh and Balaji Rao

Venkatesh and Balaji Rao

First published in Blackburn
Last updated

THE finance officer of Rovers Trust described his feeling as ‘cautious’ after examining the accounts of the holding company behind Blackburn Rovers.

Venky’s London Limited (VLL) posted a £36m loss for the year ending March 31, 2014 – which was up £9m on 2013.

Dan Grabko, finance officer of the Rovers supporters group, is pleased that VLL’s ultimate parent group, Venkateshwara Hatcheries Pvt Ltd (Venky’s), continue to support Rovers.

But he has warned if the club fail to win promotion back to the Premier League in the next two seasons, it ‘could spell the end of Venky’s’ patience’.

Grabko said: “It appears business as usual for the moment. Venky’s continue to support the club financially out of their own pocket, but at the same time the club is still solely reliant on their benevolence for existence.

“The owners note they are striving for Premier league promotion, and it seems it must be achieved before parachute payments run out, otherwise the operating structure will have to be severely modified.

"The uncertainty surrounding the Financial Fair Play rules and whether proposed sanctions will actually be imposed is also a key issue, as this year and next, the club has absolutely no hope of complying with them, so this will be a key outcome in the future fortunes of the club.

“It’s alarming that wages are now 120 per cent of turnover, which means the club still hasn’t been successful in adjusting the wage structure to the current turnover, which will continue to fall even if the club manages to achieve modest increases in matchday and commercial revenue.

“It will be virtually impossible to plug the £8m hole the reduced parachute payment will make, unless Zebra Claims is paying a ridiculous amount for shirt sponsorship.

“On the other hand, it is noticeable that the white advertising boards around the pitch aren’t only filled up with Venky’s advertising. This is a positive sign there may be a corner being turned . However, there is a long, long way to go, and nothing can substitute for the lost Premier League media revenues from the past.

“Attendances are still extremely low, especially considering the club’s statement of much improved season ticket sales, even as they must be applauded for maintaining the pricing strategy. Unfortunately the club seems to have lost 5,000 or so supporters due to a combination of the new ownership’s mistakes and handling of the club affairs in their first years, and relegation from the Premier League.

“A football club of this stature is a massive barge and it can’t turn on a dime, so righting the ship was always going to take several seasons.

“The club is still operating on the assumption of promotion back to the Premier League, but the consequences of not achieving this in the next two seasons could be catastrophic.

“The ambition is there, as we have seen with the way the owners and the club dealt with Hull City’s bid to sign Jordan Rhodes. It was a statement of intent from the owners, and one you have to respect. They at least want success, just like the supporters, and hopefully they have now found advisers that have their and the club’s own best interests at heart.

“Cautious is the word I would use to describe my feeling after examining the accounts. On the one hand you have stopped the bleeding by not increasing the operating loss and the owners have shown a willingness to finance the Premier League ambition. On the other the losses are massive and unsustainable, and not achieving promotion this year or next could spell the end of Venky’s’ patience, and the uncertainty surrounding the Financial Fair Play rulings could have a significant effect on the club’s operations.”

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