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Warning over Ewood fan exodus
Blackburn Rovers face a mass exodus of supporters from Ewood Park next season, according to a prominent fans survey.
As Steve Kean’s future remained shrouded in uncertainty last night, results from a survey of a sample of Rovers fans suggest the unrest will significantly hit attendances next campaign.
Former Rovers players and fans fear such a warning will become reality next season, unless things change at the crisis hit club.
The survey, compiled each season by bank ING Direct and Football Fans Census, said that of approximately 100 Rovers season ticket holders questioned this month, 56 per cent would not renew next campaign.
Fans from all of last season’s Premier League clubs were surveyed and the number of Rovers supporters who indicated they would not renew was 20 per cent higher than any top flight club.
Of Rovers’ fellow relegated sides, 18 per cent of Wolves fans stated they would not renew with only four per cent of Bolton fans saying they would not buy a season ticket next season.
Ewood Park staff were still in the dark last night about the outcome of Kean’s talks with Venky’s in India last week - with Kean and the owners remaining tight lipped.
It is still understood the under fire Kean will be retaining an influential role for next season, even if there is a minor change to his title, despite leading the club to Premier League relegation.
Sections of Rovers fans have long been protesting against owners Venky’s and Kean, with more than 4,000 names put to a petition calling for the manager’s sacking.
Club matriarch Anuradha Desai has been a big supporter of Kean throughout and is understood to be putting up a strong resistance to calls for Kean’s removal from within the club.
The Lancashire Telegraph understands between 5,000 to 6,000 season tickets have been bought for next season at the early bird price.
Rovers sold around 15,000 last season and 15,500 the campaign before that, with fears those numbers could be hit drastically next time round.
Rovers’ record goal scorer Simon Garner, said: “While it is not the biggest sample in the world, I would say it is pretty representative of what is going on at the club.
“If they don’t change the manager the attendances will be very low next season. That won’t just affect the performances, it will affect the revenue.
“Rovers season tickets are the cheapest around and if fans aren’t willing to buy at that price that shows how unhappy they are.
“I still believe the mood could change if they make that decision on Kean that they just have to make. Otherwise, it will be damaging financially.”
John Wareing, secretary of the Blackburn Rovers fans forum, said: “I would imagine the season ticket sales would not increase much beyond what has already been sold, unless changes are made.
“There are probably an element of fans who won’t buy a season ticket for as long as Venky's are still in charge but I think that is still the minority.
“If Steve Kean was to go and they started talking to the supporters the change in the mood could be amazing. I think it could make a huge difference.”
Phillip Lindgard, 56, London: I am not in the least bit surprised by those figures. You only need to look at the survey on the fans forum BRFCS.
“About 1000 fans say Steve Kean should go and 500 want Venky’s to go. So unless there are big changes there will be a significant reduction.
“People are incandescent with rage at the moment.”
Mark Lamb, from Blackburn, 32: “I won’t be renewing until big changes are made at the club and the first one has to be removal of Steve Kean as manager.”
James Fallon, 25, of Blackburn: “I am one of the few who will be renewing because I am supporting the players and the club. I believe having more fans in the stadium will make us a more attractive proposition to any buyers out there.
“I do know a lot don’t share that opinion and I agree with the concerns about the club’s communication and the way it is being run. Things do have to change.”