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Page last updated at 15:20 GMT, Wednesday, 15 December 2010

Rovers owner denies Allardyce sacked over transfer row

Sam Allardyce
Allardyce was fired within a month of the Venky's takeover at Blackburn

By Matt Slater

Blackburn Rovers' owners have denied the club's transfer policy is being set by sports agency Kentaro and that was why manager Sam Allardyce was sacked.

Less than a month after Indian poultry firm Venky's had bought the club for £43m, Allardyce was fired amid claims he no longer controlled transfers.

"Kentaro are our main consultants but Sam had the final call," the group's chairwoman Anuradha Desai said.

"But we didn't even get as far as discussing any names with him."

However Desai admitted that Allardyce's past record in the transfer market had done little to impress the club's new owners.

"My father once told me that out of 10 decisions you must get at least seven right - you can get two or three wrong, we're not gods," she explained.

"But to get nine or 10 wrong is not good and things have been going wrong with transfers, that's a fact."

This will sting Allardyce's pride, particularly as he has only paid fees for five players during his relatively successful two-year stint at the club. Of those, only Pascal Chimbonda and Nikola Kalinic can really be described as failures, and the jury is still out on the latter.

After Allardyce was dismissed by the club on Monday, Steve Kean was placed in temporary charge of the first team.

"We were looking and consulting people but we weren't ready to do anything," added Desai.

"And that's the same situation for Steve Kean. He's the hands-on guy, he knows the players best and he'll have the final decision on who we bring in.

"As for Kentaro, they introduced us to the club in August and continue to advise us, but we are talking to a lot of people and we certainly don't have an exclusive deal with them. All our transfers don't have to go through them."

Kentaro's role at Ewood Park has been the source of speculation ever since Venky's emerged as potential buyers of the Lancashire club.

The Swiss-based firm was founded in 2003 but has quickly become a dominant player in the sports rights business. Recent years have seen Kentaro organise overseas friendlies for Argentina and Brazil, handle the Football Association's international media rights and stage competitions such as Arsenal's Emirates Cup.

But the company moved into new territory last year when it formed a partnership with Jerome Anderson's Sports Entertainment and Media Group (SEM), a successful sports agency that represents the likes of Rio Ferdinand, Thierry Henry and Ian Wright.


It is this connection that has led many to question who is calling the shots at Ewood Park in regard to transfers, with some reports suggesting Allardyce was presented with a list of January targets that included SEM clients Kris Boyd and Geovanni.

BBC Sport understands that while a list was drawn up by Kentaro/SEM it was not definitive and did not prevent Allardyce from making his own selections.

And Desai insisted that the decision to sack Allardyce stemmed simply from a belief that the 56-year-old was not "positive enough" about her family's ambitions for the club.

"We have a long-term vision and we want to take the club to new heights," she said.

"This team should be capable of finishing fifth to seventh and it should not always be fighting for survival. I don't think this team deserves that. In that, Sam didn't fit in."

No, no, no...he's not being considered now or ever

Anuradha Desai on Diego Maradona

Allardyce will also be bruised by Desai's criticism of his tactics and motivational skills ahead of the recent 7-1 thrashing by Manchester United.

"Sam went into the game with a negative attitude," she said.

"He is a good man and always tried his best but we need somebody to be positive all the time, even if you're playing the top team.

"The important thing is that you fight. You cannot let anybody walk all over you."

Desai has been far more impressed with Kean, however, and described him as "much more positive (than Allardyce)".

The 43-year-old Scot's elevation to the top job came as a surprise to many but Desai said they were happy to leave him in charge while they take their time to find a permanent replacement. She said he will even have the final say on transfers in January.

But a source close to Kean told BBC Sport he should not be ruled out as a long-term replacement, as the former Celtic apprentice could be "the next Owen Coyle" and already has considerable Premier League experience.

One man who definitely will not be considered for the job is Diego Maradona.

"No, no, no...he's not being considered now or ever," said Desai.

She explained that the Argentine legend had been mentioned to them by a mutual contact prior to their purchase of the club but was never a serious contender. Their preference is for a British manager but an outstanding foreign candidate would be considered.

Desai acknowledged that the last few days had been damaging to the club and Venky's but remained optimistic about the future, particularly Blackburn's potential to become a household name in India.

With that in mind, she hinted that Rovers would extend their pre-season tour to Singapore to play exhibition games in Calcutta and Pune, Venky's home town.

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see also
Blackburn in no rush for new boss
14 Dec 10 |  Blackburn
Blackburn sack manager Allardyce
13 Dec 10 |  Blackburn
Blackburn taken over in 43m deal
19 Nov 10 |  Blackburn

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