Even by the standards Blackburn Rovers Football Club have set themselves over the last couple of years, this was quite something.
Shorter than a Kim Kardashian marriage, Michael Appleton was removed as Manager of Blackburn Rovers almost as quickly as he had been appointed. The latest in a series of bizarre business decisions by the clubs owners, Venky's. Appleton spend 67 days as Manager, which was 10 days longer than the man he succeeded at the helm, Henning Berg. He lasted 57 days before he was ousted. An astonishing move that has the football world shaking it's head.
Blackburn Rovers are one of the founder members of the football league. Formed in 1875, they have a rich history and are one of only 5 teams to have lifted to coveted Premier League trophy. How sad it is to see what this once proud club has become. Struggling in the Championship and with owners who clearly have no grasp on what it takes to run a football club. The number of managers they have gone through in this season alone is merely the tip of the iceberg.
There is a power struggle going on in the Boardroom and yesterday's events have confirmed it is now 'Global Advisor' Shebby Singh who has the upper hand. The often outspoken Singh has been noticeably silent in recent weeks and it is no secret that Michael Appleton was not his choice as Manager. However, what is apparent is that Singh has been working on Venky's behind the scenes to get the green light on his dismissal for some time. Just as the scheming Derek Shaw and Paul Agnew had done in relation to Henning Berg, Singh convinced the powers that be that Appleton wasn't the right man and was given permission to wield the axe.
How Appleton was dismissed says a lot about the man Shebby Singh. It was confirmed that Appleton found out about his firing from news channel Sky Sports News and then received a letter. The letter confirmed his sacking and was delivered by Singh's personal assistant. It appears Singh didn't have the time or the respect for Appleton to tell him face-to-face of his removal as Manager. What's even more peculiar is the fact Appleton stated that he didn't utter one word to Singh during his brief spell in Management. When you consider Singh is one of the leaders in the Boardroom this really does beggar belief. Rumours of Singh sulking like a common 4 year old who'd had his ball taken away because his opinion wasn't trusted looked to have been right on the money.
Granted, Blackburn's form hadn't been great as of late and they are in danger of slipping into another relegation battle. Appleton's win percentage was 27%, which clearly isn't good enough. However, what this club is desperately lacking since Venky's arrival is stability. Blackburn Rovers have now had as many Managers in one season that Manchester United have had in 41 years. Hardly a blueprint for greatness is it? Not all fans were on board with Appleton's appointment but you are never going to make every fan happy, especially at Rovers. As I have stated previously, Blackburn fans have become awfully familiar with moaning and seeing the negative in everything and this appointment was no different.
Things started reasonably well for Appleton, but injuries and a drop in form have seen the wheels come off once more. They were fortunate not to lose to bitter rivals Burnley on Sunday, a 95th minute goal from local boy David Dunn sparing their blushes. What was probably more concern to Venky's was their inability to overcome Millwall and reach the F.A Cup Semi-Final. Venky's would have been fully aware of the significance of this for the club on a global scale and what it would mean for their commercial opportunities. I have no doubt they were extremely disappointed by this and Singh used it as the perfect opportunity to get Appleton removed.
Whether you thought Appleton was the right man for the job or not is irrelevant now. What's more concerning is the owners of this historic club. They have proven time and time again that they are incapable of running a club efficiently. They seem to be easily led in making decisions, having flip-flopped between Singh and Shaw/Agnew throughout this season and indeed last. They have little interest in communicating with the fans, ignoring pleas from the various groups that are looking for answers.
It's the fans who will suffer in the long run. Blackburn fans will be following the club long after Venky's and their incompetence have left the club. That's why they have been so passionate in their disapproval of Venky's ownership. They were crucified in most parts of the media a year ago for their matchday protests against the owners and the media placed the blame of the demise of Blackburn Rovers squarely in the hands of the fans.
Oh, how times change.
Now, it is a different story. After the comical events of this season that have turned Rovers into a proverbial laughing stock, there are now sympathisers as far as the eye can see. You can count on one hand the amount of journalists and media members who were sympathetic at the beginning of this plight. Rovers fans could see what was happening as soon as cornerstones like Chairman John Williams were removed. Now it appears fashionable to be sympathetic, which isn't much consolation to the long suffering fans of Blackburn Rovers. Maybe if they had focused more on the clueless and inept owners and not on the fans in the first place then maybe it would not have come down to this.
Blackburn are not Manchester United, or Liverpool. They are a relatively small club and don't attract much media attention unless it is a drastic situation like this one. Does this come into Venky's thinking? The term 'any press is good press' springs to mind. Nothing would surprise me. What does surprise me is that after 30 months of ownership they still haven't realised the significance of this football club to the town. Blackburn relies on the club, it is the lifeblood of the community and is the main source of income in the area. Many businesses have stated just how much they have suffered as a result of Blackburn's relegation and if they continue to decline then it could cost people their livelihoods. That's why the 'Rovers Trust' are seeking the necessary funds to buy the club. That's why the 'Blackburn Action Group' are seeking answers and a voice for the fans in the boardroom.
Both are falling on deaf ears.
They may end up selling and there have been strong rumours that they are looking to do so at the end of the season. The fans can only hope, but Venky's will not be concerned who they sell to, that I can guarantee. They will only be interested in selling to the highest bidder in order to recoup their investment with no concern for the future of the clubs well-being. Whether these rumours come to fruition is anybody's guess as Venky's aren't exactly known for announcing their plans to the public.
So what now for Rovers? Reserve team Manager Gary Bowyer has been put in-charge until the end of the season and he seemed to have a positive effect on the players during his previous stint as caretaker manager, achieving 3 wins and a draw in four games. Bowyer is also favourite with the bookmakers to get the job on a permanent basis. No doubt Singh and Venky's will state their desire for a high-profile name and already Rafa Benitez has been mentioned at the end of the season.
Blissfully unaware as ever, Venky's must think every Manager in World football is clamouring for the Blackburn job. In reality, it couldn't be further from the truth. What Manager is going to come and work somewhere like this? To uproot his family and life only for it to be taken away 2 months and a few bad results later? Nobody in their right mind that's for sure. Venky's are a toxic employer, the players seem to realise that and so must onlooking out-of-work Managers. No doubt there will be some who would take on the challenge and hey, if it doesn't work out, there's always the big pay-off at the end. After all, Rovers are currently still paying the 3 managers they dismissed (Kean, Berg, Appleton) as well as Bowyer. Insanity really.
What must the players think of all this? Watching on with dismay as Manager after Manager walks through the door. This is a promising group of players who have had their confidence and life sucked out of them one way or another. Would anybody blame them if they were all considering their own futures? Players like Jordan Rhodes, Josh King, Scott Dann and Jake Kean could all play at the next level and might look to do so at the end of the season. Add to that fact Blackburn have lost all hope of retaining Colin Kazim-Richards after his loan spell after this fiasco, and you have to wonder if there will be anyone left to move the club forward.
The F.A are also to blame and if they had any conscious they would listen to the inevitable fans protests that will follow this and get involved. Their 'Fit and proper persons' test for foreign owners is clearly not fit for purpose if they can allow a company like Venky's to take over a football club and run it into the ground. If they had any common sense, they would begin an enquiry into just exactly what has gone on in the most devastating 30 months in the clubs 138 year history and give the fans some answers once and for all. I won't hold my breath though, the Football Association have looked on as clubs like Portsmouth have gone to be brink of extinction so what makes Blackburn Rovers any different? If it was an Arsenal, Chelsea or Tottenham then no doubt it would be.
They look after the big clubs who line their pockets, that's the bottom line.
So, as Blackburn Rovers stare into the abyss. Their fans enraged and no doubt planning fierce demonstrations at their upcoming home game against Blackpool on Good Friday. Venky's will be sat in the comfort of their mansions in Pune, India. Paying no attention to anything being said or done. Par for the course for undoubtedly the worst owners currently in British football.
Surprising? Definitely not.
Dean Jones: Follow me on Twitter @DeanJones_