Sam Allardyce sacking reveals the politics of a football take-over

When the obvious explanation seems stupid, we are advised to look beyond the obvious. Sam Allardyce is sacked within weeks of a takeover of Blackburn Rovers by a firm seeking to strengthen its brand image. Beyond the obvious is the influence of professional advisors

There are echoes here in the recently sacking of Newcastle’s Chris Hughton. There is a curious link we will return to, in the story of Sam Allardyce’s removal at Blackburn. Maybe football followers will already have noticed it.

The Telegraph wrote of the outrage among players and staff.

Allardyce, who was in charge of Blackburn Rovers for almost two years, was offered a list of players including Middlesbrough forward Kris Boyd and former Manchester City and Hull midfielder Geovanni after urging the club to sanction a January move for Tottenham striker Robbie Keane. But having rejected plans by the Venky’s group, the Indian-based poultry company which secured a controlling interest at Ewood Park last month, to rely on advice from the sports agency Kentaro in relation to transfer targets, Allardyce was sacked by chairman John Williams on the orders of Venky’s. The company’s priority is to appoint an English manager with Premier League experience, but a foreigner with a proven track record here would be considered.


The strategic mix

In one paragraph we glimpse the ingredients going into the poulty-maker’s grinder:

[1] New owners Venky inexperienced in football management
[2] Stated objectives to use Blackburn Rovers to strengthen their brand
[3] Allardyce submits plan to obtain a value-for-money player
[4] Venky hire and rely on advice from the sports agency Kentaro in relation to transfer targets
[5] Kentaro suggests other players
[6] Allardyce is sacked

to which I would add

[7] while this was happening, Blackburn suffer a humiliating 7-1 loss the Manchester United.

Complicated but not even complex

These factors may appear complicated but the story they tell is not a particularly complex one. Strategy students will find it easy to draw up a SWOT analysis. For me it reads something like this. Lacking knowhow of football, The Venky’s group seek advice. They are advised by Kentaro, a sport’s agency firm. Kentaro will have considerable influence and opportunities to prove its worth in a nice little earner drawing on its network of contacts. Sam is a gifted but strong-willed manager who knows what he wants…When you think of it that way, the decision to remove the manager makes a kind of peverse sense. It addresses the dilemma of having to work with an able but difficult manager.

The Newcastle connection

The recent Newcastle decision to sack Chris Hughton has similarities. Sam’s Newcastle connection? He was sacked from NUFC by an owner who may or may not have been swayed by advisors more experienced in football. The Blackburn drama appears to have some similarities.

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