Blackburn owners turn to TV pundit

Blackburn Rovers' unpopular Indian owners have turned to TV pundit Shebby Singh in a bid to reverse the fortunes of the relegated English football club, reports said Thursday.

Chicken dynasty Venky's have hired Singh, a former Malaysian international known for his appearances on sports channel ESPN Star Sports, as their global advisor to help guide Blackburn back to the English Premier League.

"Yes, I'm now helping Venky's run the club, where I oversee the present and future of Blackburn Rovers," Singh, 51, told Singapore's The New Paper.

"I have been a footballer for 18 years and involved as a TV pundit for 15 years. My life has revolved around football, but this is the biggest challenge yet, and I thank God for the opportunity."

Venky's bought venerable Blackburn for 23 million pounds ($36 million) in November 2010 and earned fans' disapproval by sacking manager Sam Allardyce and launching a vain pursuit of fading Brazilian superstar Ronaldinho.

Last season, the 1995 champions finished second-last in the Premier League with just eight wins in 38 games, as they dropped to England's second-tier.

Singh, their latest acquisition, does not have experience in management but he has been Blackburn's head of football development in Asia since last August.

He gave qualified backing to embattled manager Steve Kean, who came under intense pressure from fans during last season's failed campaign.

"At the moment, Steve Kean remains Blackburn manager. It's been a very difficult period for Venky's since taking over," he told The New Paper.

"But time heals. Venky's resolve is very strong and they are in it for the long haul."

Singh also brushed off moves from China's Guangzhou R&F to sign Blackburn's Nigerian striker Ayegbeni Yakubu, 29, who scored 18 goals in all competitions last season.

"Yakubu belongs to us. There has been no formal approach, but we are not interested in selling... I have been tasked to turn things around, and to do that, we will have to keep our best players with us," he said.

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