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John Williams leaves Blackburn Rovers
JOHN Williams has left his job as Blackburn Rovers chairman.
The hugely respected boss has been described as a ‘club great’ whose experience and expertise will be sorely missed.
Williams will be remembered for overseeing 10 consecutive years in the Premier League, a period of financial prudence in the post-Jack Walker years and a massive reduction in ticket prices which boosted attendances.
He was rated by his peers in the Premier League as one of the best chairmen in football.
It is understood a compensation package was agreed between Mr Williams and the club on Wednesday before the home match against Tottenham Hotspur.
He leaves his job with immediate effect.
Talks took place as new owners Anurandha, Balaji and Venkatesh Desai travelled to the UK this week to attend the Spurs game.
The outgoing chairman could not be contacted for comment last night but this morning issued a statement through the club confirming his departure.
The Rao family, who are understood to be travelling back to India, were also unavailable for comment.
While the exact details of what led to his departure are not known, it is understood that Mr Williams had been uncomfortable with the sacking of Sam Allardyce, with whom he enjoyed a good working relationship.
There were also concerns over the role of sports agency SEM/Kentaro, which has been working with the owners on transfer policy.
Mr Williams has not been party to the club’s inner circle in recent weeks.
He joined Rovers in 1997 as chief executive under Jack Walker, two years after Rovers had won the title.
Following the benefactor’s death in 2000, Mr Williams has been the custodian of the Walker legacy.
He oversaw promotion back to the Premier League in 2001, and the club won the Worthington Cup in 2002.
Around this time the Walker spending power was still apparent with big-money signings of Andy Cole, Barry Ferguson and Corrado Grabbi.
But by the end of the Souness era, Rovers’ financial clout had dwindled and Williams found himself at the helm of a very different club operating under tight finances.
Despite the challenges, success on the pitch was found under Mark Hughes.
During this era, the Walker Trust put the club up for sale.
One of Mr Williams’ biggest achievements has been the ticketing policy which saw the prices of season tickets slashed, boosting dwindling attendances.
Venky’s took control of Rovers in November after a £23million deal to buy the club from the Walker Trust.
In mid-December, amid fears over Mr Williams’ position, the chairman appealed for solidarity from Rovers fans.
He said at the time: "We do not want negativity around the place.
"That could work to our disadvantage by playing into the hands of our upcoming opponents.
"We need solidarity in every area.
“Football is a precarious business, fuelled by opinion, but I repeat that this is a time for everyone with a love for Blackburn Rovers to really show their support.
"This is not about individuals, either. It is about the club – first, second and third."
However, weeks later the Lancashire Telegrpah reported that Mr Williams was growing increasingly concerned that he did not have a part to play in Venky’s vision.
In a statement released by Rovers this morning, Williams said: "There is a new order, a new way of doing things and I believe the time is right for me now to move on.
"I would like to take this opportunity to wish the club, its owners, management, players, employees and supporters all the very best for the future."
Commenting on behalf of the club, managing director Tom Finn added: "All of us here at Ewood Park, our owners and I am sure all our fans, would like to this opportunity to thank John for the contribution he has made during his tenure and we send him our best wishes for the future."