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Burning money... Venky's crazy spending spree at Blackburn is revealed

April 10, 2013

Shebby Singh, Global Adviser

By NEIL ASHTON, SportMail editor.

An alarming picture has emerged of the financial chaos at the heart of crisis club Blackburn Rovers.

Under global adviser Shebby Singh, millions of pounds of owners Venky’s money has been spent on a succession of disastrous signings.

Singh arrived at Ewood Park in June 2012, and despite his limited understanding of the transfer market, he operated remarkably swiftly to bring in new blood.

As the club prepared for life in the Championship after their relegation from the Barclays Premier League last May, Singh recommended payments of more than £600,000 in agents’ fees to sign five unknown Portuguese players.

These are players who, between them, have made just four league starts this season, and three are now on loan at other clubs. But it does not end there.

Sportsmail’s investigation has discovered that Blackburn, who could end up in League One next season, are burdened with a group of 13 players whose combined wages and agents’ fees will cost the club £30million over the length of their contracts.

This week, Venky’s demanded that Singh, along with chief executive Derek Shaw and operations director Paul Agnew, plus caretaker manager Gary Bowyer, attend summit talks in India.

Adding to the confusion, last week Singh gave Shaw a letter ordering him to stay at home while the club investigated the former manager Henning Berg’s £2million High Court claim for compensation. Berg, one of four managers to serve Blackburn during this insane season at Ewood Park, was dismissed after just 57 days.

However, the club insisted there was ‘no investigation’ into Shaw, even though club officials have confirmed that he received a letter from Singh. They did, however, state that £500,000 has been paid to Berg.

The payments made to agents by the club, third from bottom in the Championship and in danger of a second successive relegation, are staggering. One agent received more than £1m for acting on behalf of clients Danny Murphy, Dickson Etuhu, Leon Best and loan signing Colin Kazim-Richards.

It’s a similar story with the signing of the Portuguese unknowns. For instance, agent Marcos Oliveira was paid £135,000 when Diogo Rosado, 23, was signed from Sporting Lisbon on August 31, 2012. Rosado made just one Championship start for Rovers before he was allowed to move on loan to Benfica’s B team in January.

Edinho Junior, who started just one game in the league for Rovers, is also out on loan, at Shillong Lajong in the I-League in India. Oliveira, whose name appears on the documents lodged with the FA, was paid £100,000 in the deal that secured Junior from Portuguese side Olhanense.

The agent also negotiated a £65,000 fee that brought jobbing Portuguese pro Nuno Henrique Goncalves, a 26-year-old defender, to Rovers last summer. Goncalves has not made a single appearance for the club. Oliveira’s influence went beyond the Portuguese players. He received £75,000 in the deal to sign Polish goalkeeper Gregor Sandomierski on loan from Genk for a season.

In other moves, midfielder Fabio Nunes had shown little promise with Portuguese side Portimonense in the Segunda Liga when he was suddenly signed by Rovers, netting his agent Nuno Rolo a staggering £150,000 commission.

Nunes, 20, has made just two Championship starts for Rovers, the last in a 2-1 home defeat by Middlesbrough in September.

Rolo pocketed a further £133,000 in fees in the deal to bring former Portugal striker Nuno Gomes, 36, to Ewood Park. Picked up from Braga, he has made just seven starts for Blackburn in the Championship, without a goal since September.

Although Rolo has told Sportsmail he was simply used as the transfer fixer by Singh, he did confirm that he was paid for the deal.

The final piece in Singh’s Portuguese jigsaw was the arrival of midfielder Paulo Jorge, 20, from Porto, for which Carlos Mendes was paid £156,000 commission. Jorge has made one seven-minute appearance in the league against Ipswich in August and has since been loaned to a Bulgarian side.

Singh, who has seen Steve Kean resign as manager before sacking Berg and Michael Appleton this season, also authorised huge wages for players with Premier League experience.

Agent Neil Fewings earned £1m from the transactions taking Murphy and Etuhu from Fulham, the acquisition of Newcastle forward Best, and the loan deal for Kazim-Richards from Galatasaray.

Murphy has made 33 Championship appearances and started for the first time in a month in the 3-0 defeat at Cardiff on April 1. He is on £35,000 a week, with Etuhu on £30,000 a week.

Best is on a similar amount — he ruptured cruciate ligaments in pre-season and only returned to the first team a month ago.

On Tuesday night, the club officially refused to comment after being made aware of the precise content of the transactions — Singh did not return calls. Sportsmail gave the financial details and the names of the agents to chief executive Shaw and club secretary Ian Silvester on Tuesday lunchtime.

Both declined to comment, as did Mendes and Oliveira.

Fewings insisted he had acted ‘in good faith and for the benefit of his clients’, while Rolo insisted that the deals he was involved in were ‘perfectly normal’.


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