Following on from the communication chain which was now open with Shebby Singh, Mark Fish arranged a meeting with the new Managing Director Derek Shaw and Communications Director Paul Agnew.
This was a meeting a few of us in the Action Group were particularly looking forwards to. I was very keen to pull Paul Agnew up on his revelations 12 months earlier, when he was highly critical of the Rao Family, whilst Graham Reid also could not wait to meet Paul Agnew, as Graham recalled during the early 80’s that he had been ripped off over away travel by a Paul Agnew.
We attended the meeting at Ewood Park, and I was waiting for Graham to lay into Paul Agnew, only for Graham to realise, it was errrrr a different Paul Agnew!!! Graham had been gearing himself up for 12 months to get in a room with Mr Agnew and i’m not sure if he was relieved or embarrassed when it turned out to be a total different guy.
We got stitched up a little at this meeting, as unknown to us, Shaw and Agnew had invited Jack Straw to the meeting. Jack was sat at one side of the table, whilst Agnew was sat at the top of the table on his throne, purring like Cheshire cat.
Never one to let an opportunity drop, as I’m well renowned for asking the difficult questions and getting straight to the point, I started my line of questioning with Paul Agnew firstly pointing out, how he found himself 12 months earlier having nothing good to say about the Rao family, and he had gone from a not the greatest of PR Guys to being now a Director of the club. Agnew’s response was “BRFCS , Twitter and the pub won’t sack me, I can now be part of changing the things which did not sit right with me” I remember it well, as I did think it would be silly of me, not to record this meeting, after all, We was busy carrying out an investigation into our club, and any glimmer of information, or shedding of light on the whole debacle was key, if we was going to rid our famous club, of the rot which had set in since the Rao’s had arrived.
Derek Shaw on the other hand, was very much in the mold of “All my Christmas’s have come at once”. He was openly honest, that he had landed a dream appointment, at one of the England’s oldest clubs, which was rich in heritage. He was very critical of the Williams administration and claimed many of the sub-contractors used at the club prior to him taking over the helm, was very much job for the boys and no value for money, He made a big episode on how he had saved money on the coffee we was drinking and the chairs in the offices, by changing suppliers. How this was relevant I did not know.
Mark Fish continued with the line of difficult and direct questions, including what Shebby Singh’s role was at the club. Their answer was simple “We do not know”. Yep these two certainly showed the traits of not only being out their depth, but they was actually swimming with concrete flippers.
We left the meeting under no illusions, that the club was now in a even worse shape, than it had been 12 months earlier, as we now had a board of Directors, who had taken up key roles, without a track record of being successful in their previous endeavors.
The full recording of the meeting was sent to Jagdish Rao, the Son of Balaji Rao some months later, who played the recording to his family, within a few weeks, Agnew was gone. Jagdish was the first member of the family I had direct contact with, but he would not be the last.
Next up, the group managed to persuade Shebby Singh to face the supporters in at an open floor meeting at King Georges Hall. Again in typical Singh fashion, he agreed without hesitation. I remember thinking how the Rao’s had embarrassed the Pune 9 during their trip to India, whilst also thinking if we can get Singh on a table in front of the supporters, he would not be able to help himself in expressing far more than perhaps the Board, Manager or Owners would like.
The Open floor meeting came, and to a packed crowd of supporters, Shebby Singh delivered one liner after one liner, as he played to the crowd. Sitting next to him, I cringed at some of the comments, whilst booting him under the table, with some of the responses he put out there, regarding Pedersen amongst other things. Don’t get me wrong, some of the things he said, RE “That position is filled”, when someone made a joke about Kean, being a drunk, a liar amongst other things, I could not help but laugh. This was the owners representative, he was making back page news, Sky Sports News, with outlandish statements, which was showing the world how dysfunctional our club was.
What I did not know, until just a few weeks ago, was Steve Kean had a mole in the crowd and was being updated via Colin Hendry’s mobile throughout the open floor meeting.They were over in Ireland as part of Rovers Pre-Season calendar. Text were flying both ways, as they was curious what was being said, whilst the supporters movement was certainly a great concern to Steve Kean. One Sky Sports reporter, approached me after the open floor meeting and thanked us for organising the event and said in all the years he has been reporting on Football, he could not remember a single time that he had ever witnessed anything like what had occurred in that room that day. Many supporters were angered by the words, Singh had used, the comments he had made, whilst the BRFC Action Group also came in for stick, for being sat next to him whilst this whole charade was played out. However to be fair to Singh, regardless of what came out of his mouth, it took real balls to sit up there in front of 500 angry supporters, which was something no-one previously had shown the desire or courage to do. You may call it stupidity, but no-one could of been completely sure what Singh would say that day.
The following Day, Singh called me to tell me, “Kean and the players were not happy with his actions” He said he had been advised to issue an apology to Kean, which was the turning point in terms of Singh and his relationship with Kean. I remember thinking, for those supporters who want Kean gone, this is a major breakthrough. Within three weeks of meeting Kean, we have now got him gunning for Kean, whilst also gunning for Shaw and Agnew.
The press ran with the meeting for 2 days solid, Kean was demanding an apology publicly and even did a TV Interview. The incompetence being shown daily at the club, was well and truly back in the public domain and the cross fire in the board-room, was a seed not only planted, but it was now growing and quickly.
In another call with Singh, I thought I’d push the line of questioning to the limits, Regarding Anderson, SHAGNEW (as they was now being universally called), including by Singh, plus the Rao family. What came next, even caught me by surprise as Singh opened up, on team selection. He claimed Steve Kean would pick the team, It would then be sent to Balaji Rao for approval. Balaji would often make changes to the team and then issue it back to Kean, who would have to go with the team Balaji chose. I could not believe me ears, I asked “Do you get involved too”? His reply, “I get asked my opinion but don’t disagree with my bosses choices, it is their club”.
This got me thinking deeply, about the betting market, things which were discussed at Parliament, things which had been discussed to death on the message boards. It also later had me thinking about Steve Kean’s contract.
For those of you who have not seen the leaked documents, or dissected them, One of the Documents leaked a few weeks ago is of course Steve Kean’s contract. In this contract, For season 2011-2012 His basic salary was £1 Million Pounds, with bonuses triggered for all sorts of different permutations. The scary thing about this contract, was previsions were made for him to be Managing us in League one, which I like many others have deemed to be very strange, especially as Bonus payments were also in the contract even if we was in league 1. However the big part of the contract that stands out was something which is referred to as “AN ADDITIONAL SALARY” This is paid yearly regardless of results and was a whacking £1.611 Million, which in itself, was bigger than his basic and bonuses put together.
So the question is, Was this additional payment because:
He was never going to be in charge of picking the team or signing players, and was just the front man, for the owners to play Championship Manager with team selection, whilst Kentaro,who were in contract with the Venky’s, (as per the other leaked document) would get to filter unknown players into the club, get them a few TV Appearances and sell them at Profit, but get nice commissions regardless if they was a success or not?
My thoughts, were now a little confused, what did the owners gain, by picking the team, when they barely knew a thing about the game, which again pointed to betting markets.
The Season started and in fairness although we were not playing well, we actually started the season under Kean getting results and we was nearer the top than the bottom.
I was invited to go corporate by Wayne Wild, for the home Fixture v Leicester City, which was a nice gesture. I Actually missed Rovers go 1-0 up through Gomes, as I had nipped to the toilet. Vardy equalised and the game was nicely poised, although not very exciting. I remember watching the dug-out, looking around who was in the Director’s box ,seeing who was about from the owners, SEM and other protagonist which had cropped up during the investigation we was carrying out. I could see Formica getting stripped off to come on, when Wayne Wild turned to me and said “Text your mate Singh and tell him to get Rochina on”. We had a bit of a banter between ourselves for a minute or two, before I said, “He would probably make that happen”. Anyway I sent the text, “Forget Formica, get Rochina on”. I was not expecting to get a reply within seconds saying “OK”. To mine and Wayne’s disbelief , Formica stopped getting ready to come on, and Rochina was now being stripped off to come on. The substitution was made, which was followed by a text from Singh saying “Are you happy now?” I was shocked and disgusted, in a matter of minutes, through a bit of banter, I Had now had a direct impact on the pitch, via influencing a substitution. Rochina actually had a hand in Rovers scoring the winner, however my worse fears were now being realised. Kean the unsackable Manager was not being sacked, as he was not even picking the team, and judging by the Text substitution, was also not choosing who was coming on and off. Our team was being run from the stands and India by people who had little clue on how to Manage a football team.
People say the Venky’s were duped? Come on, those idiots were picking the team? Whilst Kean , SEM Kentaro and Crescendo were having a right good pay day, for passing poor players through the club, negotiating contracts of salable assets, and personal contracts for being front men.
Some of you reading this right now, are probably building up a picture of what has happened at our club, I have been give a little bit of grief in recent days other the content of this blog, some would rather I did not write it, whilst others are quick to jump on me, for the things I have personally had a direct impact on. Please everyone remember, when you are investigating things, you need to get in close, you need to test the waters, and you need to push the boundaries to the limits. No-one said this story would be nice, whilst I more than anyone, wish I never logged into Twitter the night after thew Fulham match. This whole situation is like a poison chalice, I have seen and witnessed things, which I wish I had not, as have many of the people who have been on this journey with me, in ridding our club, of those who wisntinuesh to do it harm
I could of taken the story to the grave with me, but I will continue to write what I have learnt as, its vital every single supporter of our club understands, what has happened, and what people have put themselves through to uncover the truth.
In my next Blog, The Singh saga continues