Football agent, Jerome Anderson, is head of the sports management company SEM, which advised Venky’s, Blackburn Rovers owners, on their takeover. Shockingly, Anderson counts among his clients, Blackburn’s current manager, Steve Kean, who was brought in by the Venky’s, along with a number of Anderson-connected players, including the agents own son.
So, with a football agent exerting such power, influence and control over a football club – effectively ruling the roost at Ewood – where are the FA on what is without doubt unethical, improper and rotten abuse that has seen the Pune poultry pushers plague, pillage and pulverize a founding member of our fantastic game it into the ground, in just 18 months.
Jerome Anderson’s influence
David Conn, football writer for The Guardian, commented in his blog: “A substantial, unexpected degree of influence has clearly been entrusted at Ewood Park to the football agent Jerome Anderson, whose company, SEM, which is merged with the Swiss sports rights agency Kentaro, was advising Venky’s before they bought Rovers.”
After former Blackburn boss Sam Allardyce was sensationally sacked in December 2010 and replaced by Anderson’s client, Kean, Rovers were forced to deny the dismissal had been based on a brouhaha relating to the club’s transfer policy being set by Kentaro.”Kentaro are our main consultants but Sam had the final call,” said Venky’s chairwoman, Anuradha Desai.
It seems Allardyce’s suspicious about Anderson’s involvement in transfers was correct, as along with the big name sales of key players Samba and Jones, and the freezing out of experience players – to prevent appearance related contact extension clauses being activated – came the cheap, half-witted, unintelligent Anderson influenced signings of Ruben Rochina, Mauro Formica and even his own son, Myles Anderson – unbelievable.
The transfer of Formica in January 2011 was initially disallowed by the Premier League on ‘technical grounds’, reportedly due to the fact the deal involved a ‘third party ownership element’ that the Premier League was not happy with.
Blackburn also signed Ruben Rochina in the same month for €450,000 from Barcelona in a deal where Rochina’s agent, Manuel Salamanca Ferrer, received a £1.65m fee – over three times as much as the actually transfer fee! Anderson claimed to not have made any money from this.
He was involved in both transfers though, commenting on Sky TV: “I basically slept at the training ground for the month of January and helped the club in so many areas. First and foremost trying to bring in players. We were very, very successful in that area.” Formica and Rochina went on to make one league appearance during the remainder of the 2010/11 season, between them.
In March 2011, when it was announced that Anderson’s 21-year-old footballer son, Myles, had signed a pre-contract agreement with Blackburn, sources close to the agent insisted he had no day-to-day involvement at the club. Yet a month earlier, when John Williams left Blackburn Rovers in February 2011, after 14 years as chairman, Anuradha Desai explained that the departure was in part due to the fact that John had “struggled to accept Jerome’s role at the club.”
Before Williams left, he wrote a letter to Mrs Desai – that has since been leaked – the last paragraph of which read: “Finally, our football secretary has, this morning, been instructed by SEM to issue a mandate to a third-party without any reference or approval from the board. We are not familiar with the player concerned nor is he one that has been mentioned to us by the manager. Could you please, therefore, clarify the role of SEM in our transfer policy.”
It is clear that Anderson had a cunning, controlling and controversially influential role at the club. Is the FA not supposed to govern against this sort of unethical behaviour?
The ‘governing body’ of English football
The FA was founded in 1863 as the governing body of the game in England. This means it is supposed to look after its members, the many clubs at all levels that are English football – including Blackburn Rovers. In its Memorandum, the FA states one of its main objects as:
…to govern the game of association football with integrity and in doing so will seek to: (i) …preventing infringements of the rules and regulations of The Association and Laws of the Game, or other improper methods of practices in such game, and for protecting it from abuses…
I would interpret this to mean, among many things, that the FA will ensure that football agents, who represent players and managers in the game, are not in a position to have an influence over a club – this would surely be an ‘improper practice’ and breach of the ‘integrity’ of the game.
Further, if an agent did have such influence and was involved in a takeover of a football club at which this agent has clients – who could benefit from this influence – this would surely be ‘abuse’.
It seems I am wrong in my interpretations.
The FA has done nothing to prevent Rovers uncommunicative, ruthless and disconnected owners taking advice from and instilling control of a Premier League club (for one more game) to a football agent. But why have the FA not intervened?
Where is the FA?
Daily Mirror journalist, David Anderson, said: “Indian owners wanted the Champions League on a budget but ended up turning a stable mid-table club into a laughing stock”. There is no doubt the ruin of Rovers is down to the bad advice the Venky’s have taken and continue to take on football matters.
Just look at how they dealt with the recent leak of former deputy CEO, Paul Hunt’s letter, that he sent to Mrs Desai in December 2010, expressing his concerns about Kean and pleading with them to see sense to save the club from relegation – they sacked him. Kean’s still in a job though. Hunt of course, was not a client of Jerome Anderson.
Imagine for a moment that you are a football agent and you have just advised a wealthy business person on their takeover of Manchester United for example. As a further client, you also have a complete novice wannabe manager, as well as connections to a striker no one has heard of and your own son. You advise the new owner that they should sack Sir Alex and replace him with the novice wannabe manager, replace Wayne Rooney with the unknown striker and put your son on the books.
That scenario could actually happen; it has actually happened at Rovers (!); and it is apparently legally allowed to happen, because the FA, football’s governing body, is seemingly willing to let it happen.
You would think the FA would have got involved to curtail the calamitous circus that has been circling Ewood Park this season, but alas, none of their extortionately remunerated executives seemed to manage to move from the plush luxury of their indulgently decorated not-for-profit offices in central London.
If Venky’s have not tarnished the English game by so foully abusing a prestigious member of its governing body, then I’ll release a chicken onto the pitch at the next Rovers game.
To the FA, I say: where are you? It’s time you stood up to those who want to do our game harm, those who want to ruin our clubs and those who are so blatantly taking money off loyal fans to simply line their own pockets. Stop being so cowardly, and act.