WHEN Alan Myers, Blackburn Rovers’ new director of communications, speaks of his desire to bring the club and its supporters closer together in many ways what he is talking about is attempting to repair the relationship between fans and Venky’s.
That is clear as much when he states that he has made it his intention to swap ‘snowballs for handshakes’, referring to the incident when Rovers’ owners were given a frosty reception by angry supporters before the home game against Charlton Athletic last season.
Myers, who enjoyed success in a similar role during six months at his beloved Everton, is aware that will not be easy.
He admits Rovers fans have been ‘absolutely patient’ in what they have been through in the last three years.
But with the club appearing to be at its most stable since the change in ownership in November 2010, he believes bridges can be built, insisting that Venky’s are as desperate for success as much as Rovers’ long-suffering supporters.
“One of the things I insisted on when I came here is that the owners bought into the fact that we have got to unite everyone,” said Myers.
“I spoke with Madame Desai on the phone and I got total agreement on that. What I said to her was I want to try and change snowballs for handshakes. I want the Blackburn fans to welcome the family.
“It’s disrespectful for me to say to fans to forget what has gone on. I wouldn’t do that for a second because I wasn’t here to endure what they’ve been through.
“But what I want to do is work hard enough to gain the trust of the fans and make them understand we all want the same thing – and that’s success.
“I can honestly say I wouldn’t be here if I could not look you in the eye and say the owners want the fans to be happy and are desperate to give the fans success.
“This is what they want for Blackburn and I think we can do it as what I do see here is possibility.
“There is a great infrastructure here, there are great people here, there are owners here who want success and a great manager who was exactly what Blackburn needed and need now.”
Myers has kept in touch with Venky’s since the days when he was reporting on the club as Sky Sports’ North West Bureau Chief, a position he held for 12 years.
He was present at Ewood Park for the match against Bolton Wanderers on December 20, 2011 when Rovers fans made their feelings known about deeply unpopular then manager Steve Kean.
Myers was left saddened that night by the plight of the club but he feels it has made progress since those days.
“I think the work that has been done over the last six months or so has been tremendous,” said Myers.
“I’ve really been impressed with the way the club has looked stable, there’s been no silly messages coming out – and that’s the way it’s got to be because football fans need stability.
“I’ve been in the business for 25 years now in one guise or another and the biggest thing I’ve learned is that if you’re a team – and by team I mean the fans, the club, the staff, the players, the manager, the owners – then you’ve got a chance. I’m not saying that will automatically bring success but it will bring a chance of success. If you don’t and you’re not like that, I’ll guarantee you’ll never have success.
"So we need the fans to come along with us – and to be fair to them, they have been brilliant, absolutely patient.”
Myers has already opened a Twitter account specifically for Rovers supporters to contact and engage with him – @Alanmyers2brfc – and he has plans in place to hold events for fans similar to the ones he put on at Everton.
Myers returned to Goodison Park – he was employed as the club’s press officer between 1996 and 2001 – in the summer to take over as communications director and he quickly became a popular figure with Evertonians for his willingness to engage over social media and the role he played in consulting supporters over the decision to change the club crest after a controversial redesign.
It therefore came as a shock when he announced his resignation just six months into the job – and an even bigger shock when he joined Rovers less than 24 hours later. Myers said:
“I decided to leave Everton a couple of days before it was announced last Thursday and within 15 minutes of it being announced I had a phone call off Rovers’ managing director Derek Shaw saying the family wanted to speak to me.
“I took the job because I think there’s something we can do here. One of the things we’ve had over the last six months I was at Everton was the ability to engage with the fans – and I think the fans here are ready to have somebody listen to them.
“Nobody forced me out of Everton, nobody told me to go. But if you’re not happy somewhere, you’ve got to do something about it. And I am very happy to be here now.”