Rovers’ sale of their Brockahll trainnig ground was done in ‘order to comply with Financial Fair Play’.

That’s the view of Football Finance expert Kieran Maguire who says the timing of the move was so the funds used from the sale could be used as part of the club’s FFP calculations.

It has come to light that the Senior Training Centre at Brockhall was sold by the club in June to Venkatashwara London Limited, a new company set up by owners Venky’s.

Documents listed at the Land Registry outline that the Senior Training Centre, which had been earmarked for development earlier this year, was sold for £16.6m, with a lease-back agreement in place.

Venkateshwara London Limited are now the registered owners of Blackburn Rovers Senior Training Centre & Lodge at Brockhall Village with the transfer from Blackburn Rovers Football and Athletic Club made on June 24.

That came a week before the club’s year end, and also ahead of the closing of that particular avenue of raising funds to include in FFP calculations by the EFL, as referenced by the club in their statement.

The £16.6m will be included in the accounts to June 30 2021 which will be released in March, while the club received a similar amount from the sale of Adam Armstrong the following month, funds which will be included in the 2022 accounts.

“The training facilities could have been sold for two reasons, one: for necessity of cash, secondly: for Financial Fair Play,” Maguire explained.

“With regards to a necessity of cash, given that the money has come from one part of the Venky’s empire to pay another, it’s a bit like transferring from your left hand to your right hand, so I don’t think that’s the driving force.

“We have seen quite a few clubs transfer properties in order comply with Financial Fair Play and the rules were relaxed in 2016 and since then we’ve seen Birmingham City, Aston Villa, Reading, Sheffield Wednesday and Derby County all transfer either the stadium or similar facilities to another company controlled by the owner.

“That particular loophole has been closed by the EFL in the last few months, and I suspect that clubs will have been given advanced notice of this and therefore because Blackburn Rovers have lost significant sums under Venky’s they were pretty close to FFP limits and have done this in order to comply with FFP.”

The club confirmed Ewood Park and the Academy Training Centre, situated inside Brockhall Village, are unaffected and remain owned by the football club.

Rovers said the move was part of a restructure and took into account ‘the imminent change in FFP rules precluding the inclusion of profit on sale of assets with effect from July 1 2021 onwards’ as well as a response to the coronavirus pandemic.

“The rule was initially changed in 2016, for reasons which have never been made clear, and following fairly unhappy comments from a number of clubs, the loophole, for want of a better phrase, was closed only a few months ago,” Maguire added.

“Nobody had publicised it from the EFL. Clubs now really have to stand on their own two feet with regards to how they try and fund themselves from an FFP perspective.”

Rovers lost £21m in the year to June 2020, figures which only took into account nine matches being played behind closed doors. The next accounts will include the whole of the 2020/21 season which Rovers played entirely without fans, with Maguire expecting even greater losses across the division.

He told the BBC: “Unfortunately so, the clubs in the Championship make a collective loss of around £600m in 2020, that was with three-quarters of the season infront of paying crowds.

“In 2021, with the turnstiles not clicking at all, Norwich have published their accounts and their matchday income was down 99 per cent.

“It’s going to be tough. Norwich are a well-run club and they lost £40m in 2021, they were fortunate to have some big player sales to cover that, but not every club has that in a transfer market which is pretty dead at present.”

Rovers said ‘all affected assets remain under the ownership and held within the Venky’s group’ and that operations at the STC would continue as normal.

Asked whether fans should be concerned by the move, Maguire said: “No more concerned than they would have been over the tenure of their ownership.

“I appreciate looking at the comments from Blackburn Rovers fans on social media that they have not always been the most popular of owners, but they have put their money when their mouth is.

“If we look at what happened in 2020 for every £100 that Rovers brought in they spent £189 on wages, and that shortfall was made up by Venky’s who have put in well over £150m into the club themselves.

“I don’t think Venky’s should be viewed as villains who are extract money from the club, pretty much the opposite, they have continued to underwrite losses, but FFP makes things more difficult for them and I think that was the particular driving force behind this approach they have taken with regards to the training ground.”