It’s four years to the day that Steve Kean, finally left as Manager of Blackburn Rovers. I have thought about putting a blog together to remember that day. However the last 24 hours has brought us #SAMGATE, After the Daily Telegraph’s undercover sting. All of us will have a different opinion about the in’s and out’s of what we have read and seen regarding the Allardyce saga, however one thing the whole sting points to, is corruption is still very much rife in our National game and the F.A Continue to turn a blind eye to much of it.
It’s not by accident, I have decided to write my memoirs via a blog, which covers the supporter’s investigation into Blackburn Rovers, whilst sharing the findings which has been uncovered during the last 5 years. This is after the F.A Point blank refused to look into the goings on regarding our club. Many of the things mentioned over the last 24 hours, are mirror imaged into some of the goings on at Rovers, but its took a Newspaper to do an exclusive to get the FA to act, which ultimately saw Sam Allardyce leave his position as Manager of our National team.
Another article came out today, however the names of those involved have been protected after lawyer intervention, which is very much what the press have faced with Rovers since the Rao Family took over the Helm at Ewood, when the Walker’s Trust accepted their offer.
This particular part of my blog was not scheduled for at least 6 weeks, however I have fast forwarded 12 months, as I feel its relevant to what we have seen all over the World news over the last 24 hours. I will pick up where I left off in my previous blog post, in my next Blog post.
I will now take you back to the time, when Kean had long gone along with Shebby Singh. A witness came forward and wanted to discuss, what he had personally witnessed during his employment at Blackburn Rovers. Phil Thompson, who was part of the BRFC Action Group Committee, was approached by this individual. The individual in question had information he wanted to share with the Committee and a meeting was set up. I could not attend the first meeting as I had prior arrangements; however group secretary, Mark Fish and Phil Thompson agreed to meet with this witness. I’m not too sure what was discussed at that meeting, as I was not there, however it did prompt a second meeting very quickly.
Mark Fish called me and said he had met up with Matt Hocking who was Blackburn Rovers former Players Liaison officer, who had shared some very interesting information, which he would like me to hear for myself, so I could make my mind up, if it was relevant to the investigation?
Mark, Phil and I arranged to meet with Mr Hocking at a public house, which was the first of two meetings I personally had with him, The second being at an out of town restaurant.
I had come across Mr Hocking before during the Training ground Protest, as he was the individual Steve Kean sent out, to try and coax us into leaving, as Kean refused to leave the Training ground, whilst the supporters were outside.
Matt was a nice guy, very open and very willing to answer any questions posed to him. Matt, had been brought to Rovers by Sam Allardyce and they had worked together before at Bolton Wanderers. I asked Matt, what was the purpose of coming forwards now and if he would speak on record? He stated that a few long standing friends at the club, had been treated poorly, lost their jobs and he felt very aggrieved by their treatment. He was adamant that should a full public investigation be called regarding Blackburn Rovers, that he would without hesitation stand as a witness. From the Action Group’s point of view, it was a case of “So far, so good”. I began to dig deeper into what Matt’s role was, as I was trying work out, if what he had to say, would have any relevance to the investigation. You need to remember, I don’t have enough fingers or toes left, to count the amount of employee;s past and present I have spoken to at Rovers, and many in the main have been as much in the dark as the supporters.
It became apparent very quickly Matt was different, he did have stories which were very relevant, and which started to answer some questions, which we had certain pieces but not all of them.
Matt’s first Claim was:
He shared a car journey with Steve Kean and Jerome Anderson, just days after Sam Allardyce’s departure with Matt doing the driving. They pulled up on a car park, and Jerome Anderson said to Matt. “I need to know are you with us?, I know you and Sam were close, but you need to understand, it’s just business, Sam will get another Job”. Matt made it clear, he was happy at Rovers and was happy to continue, and even happier if they wanted him to continue? During the time the car was parked, Steve Kean and Jerome Anderson, discussed Steve Kean’s contract and its contents for him to become full time Manager. Steve Kean then suggested to Matt, his position was safe and he would personally see he was alright.
Matts second Claim was:
Steve Kean called him into his office at the Training ground for a meeting. He asked Matt to shut the door, and put a proposal to him. He offered Matt £500 per week cash in hand, which Steve would give him weekly, to keep the players sweet, be the fly on the wall, and help plant stories into the press, by using the players. He was asked to use motives, for example racism to plant the seed in the players mind, that Kean had their backs. He also wanted Matt to be on call if he needed him, including during any meetings he may have. Matt stated although a Player Liaison officer gets an okay wage, it’s certainly not a footballers wage and £500.00 a week tax free, is not something to turn your nose up at, especially as you are trying to keep your job. Matt accepted to the proposal
Matt’s third claim :
Steve Kean, became very reliant on him, as he liked a drink. He would call him at all hours, especially in the early hours of the morning to pick him up, from wherever he had been drinking, as Matt was now becoming more of Kean’s PA, for this additional money, which was paid weekly as Steve Kean said it would be. This included late nights at Ewood after first team fixtures.
Matt’s fourth Claim:
Matt would always be present when Anderson, Huber and Indoo Sella da Monteluce were present for meetings at the Training ground and random, places around the North-West. Matt made it very clear, that is was beyond any reason able doubt, who was in charge at Ewood and it certainly was not the board of Directors. All transfers, third party ownerships, payments were discussed in these meetings, and he was privy to the lot, including current player negotiations, which were being managed by the before mentioned, despite them having their own agents. Hocking was very much the training ground Mr Fix-it as he was used as the go between to try and tie current players into contracts which had Anderson’s associates fingers all over them, whilst escorting players and agents of players who were very much part of third party ownership around the training ground and local houses, he used Formica as an example of this.
You may be reading the above and thinking, well, it was only £500 per week?
However the plot gets deeper than this.
Please see the letter below from Blackburn Rovers former Secretary to the F.A Regarding the investigative questions posed by the F.A
BY E-MAIL & POST
16th March 2011.
Head of Football Integrity
The Football Association
SEM Group / Kentaro
I write further to your letter dated 2 March 2011 and to our subsequent correspondence in which you granted an extension of time until 16 March 2011 for the Club to file its response. I now set out the Club’s response below.
Please note that the contents of this letter have been prepared on the basis that The FA does not require disclosure of the representation contracts entered into by the Club, and/or the details of any payments made, in respect of Agency Activity for the Transactions listed in your letter. Also, for the purposes of this response, we have assumed that your references to the ‘Club’ in the letter are intended to be references to Blackburn Rovers Football & Athletic PLC.
As a preliminary clarification, we wish to confirm that no Authorised Agent holds an interest in the Club (as defined in The FA FootballAgents Regulations). We now respond to the specific questions contained in your letter:
- We confirm that the Club does not have any contractual or customary arrangements, whether formal or informal, with SEM Limited and/or Kentaro Limited and/or any other company in the Kentaro AG group.
In order that The FA has a complete understanding of the situation, we do however wish to confirm that the ultimate legal owner of the Club, Venkateshwara Hatcheries PVT Ltd (‘VHPL’), is party to a non-exclusive agreement with The Kentaro Group (‘Kentaro’) under which Kentaro provides consultancy services to VHPL in respect of football-related business (‘the VHPL – Kentaro Agreement’). The Club has been provided with an undated copy of the VHPL – Kentaro Agreement and we hereby enclose a copy of the same. We have been advised that a long form contract was not completed. We further understand that VHPL does not intend to renew the VHPL – Kentaro Agreement on the renewal date (which we are told is 1 July 2011).
- We confirm that no fees have been paid in the course of the 2010/11 season by the Club to either SEM Limited, Kentaro Limited and/or any other company in the Kentaro AG group, other than the following payment:
£2,080.00 (plus VAT) to Jeff Weston, of SEM Limited, on 1 July 2010 on behalf of Nick Blackman in respect of the work undertaken by Mr Weston on behalf of the Player in the negotiation of the Player’s previous Playing Contract dated 9 January 2009. All documentation was lodged with The FA at the time of the transaction and the payment was made via The FA.
In accordance with clause 3 of the VHPL – Kentaro Agreement, we can confirm that VHPL has paid the first instalment for Year 1 of £100,000 to Kentaro in accordance with clause 3 of the VHPL – Kentaro Agreement. The second instalment of £100,000 for ‘Year 1’ has not been paid.
In addition to the above, please note that SEM Limited were recently involved in the Club’s employment of Steve Kean as Manager and John Jensen as Assistant Manager. The Club has agreed, on a subject to contract basis, to remunerate SEM Limited on behalf of the individuals concerned in relation to these deals and the fees proposed to be paid to SEM Limited are £20,000 in respect of Steve Kean and £5,000 in respect of John Jensen. As at the date of this letter, no agreements have been completed in respect of this work nor have any payments been made. As with previous payments to the Licensed Agents of our Managers, we shall provide The FA with copies of the contractual documentation once entered into and payment shall be made via The FA.
Finally, for the sake of completeness and whilst not falling within the scope of your enquiry as set out in your letter, please note that prior to its acquisition of the Club, VHPL entered into a non-exclusive agreement with a company called Crescendo Sports Limited (a company whose registered office we understand is at Suite 41, 4th Floor, Britannia House, Cator Road, BS8811, Bandar Seri Begwan, Brunei) (‘Crescendo’) (‘the Crescendo – VHPL Agreement’). We understand from VHPL that an officer of SEM Limited, Jerome Anderson, has a connection with Crescendo. Under the Crescendo – VHPL Agreement, Crescendo provided consultancy services to VHPL in respect of its acquisition of the Club – this agreement pre-dated VHPL’s ownership of the Club and expired upon its successful acquisition of the Club. Please note that as the Crescendo – VHPL Agreement both contains a binding confidentiality clause and does not fall within the scope of your enquiry, whilst we can inform you of its existence we are not legally entitled to disclose its terms to The FA.
We trust the above information answers your queries but should you require any further clarifications, please contact me.
The letter advised that SEM/Kentaro’s relationship with Rovers was non existent and it was actually with VHPL, furthermore, Rovers also claimed that their arrangement with Crescendo was purely in an advisory capacity when the Rao’s bought the club. They did not disclose this contract to the F.A But have always maintained the contract ended when the club was purchased. The fact that Indoo Sella Di Monteluce was at the Training ground organising Rovers transfers and contracts during Matt Hockings employment at the club, disproves the theory and answers Rovers presented to F.A. Furthermore, another member of the Crescendo band, is none other than Suhail Pascha who is also Ex Kentaro. Rovers are trying so desperately to get a work permit for Pascha, so he can continue to advise the owners, as he has over the last 18 months, regarding all accusations and footballing decisions at Ewood Park. Its common Knowledge that an open advert for the position was put out via the UK Job centre, with the sole aim of engineering Pascha into the role, whilst pulling the wool over the Home Office’s eyes. The truth is Suhail still work’s on a daily basis at Rovers and his position has never been in doubt, and its only a delay in the work permit which has prevented his position being publically announced. Crescendo who are the same people as Kentaro, have for 5 years continued to play a part in the running of Blackburn Rovers, which breaks a number of F.A Rules.
To summarise, when Sam Allardyce was caught by the Telegraph Sting, he was caught suggesting ways around third party ownership and agent involvement. He has been sacked because of this, Yet Blackburn Rovers, who have been subjected to the same for five years, is still not deemed a concern for the F.A ? Why is this? Why are the F.A Trying to bury the truth? What are the deeper implications?
Matt Hocking’s allegations certainly tie up with other information which was gathered before our meetings, and subsequent information which has come to light since, as part of the leaked document package, which was distributed some weeks ago.