Delay to India court hearing puts funding of Blackburn Rovers on edge

Blackburn Rovers Ewood Park - © Chris Heaton

A scheduled court hearing which could have released funding from the owners of Championship football club Blackburn Rovers has been delayed until April.

Earlier this month reported that the Lancashire club’s financial destiny hung in the balance and was at the behest of a judge in a High Court in the Indian capital of New Delhi.

It had emerged that in June 2023, the poultry and pharma group Venky’s, which has owned Rovers since 2011, had to apply to the High Court in the capital New Delhi for emergency permission to pay an outstanding tax bill. An earlier application to send £26m to Blackburn was turned down when the Indian government’s Economic Directorate refused to issue a ‘No Objection Certificate’ to payments to Rovers.

Venky’s achieved permission to settle the tax bill which they argued would have caused “a huge loss to the reputation.”

But with the January transfer window drawing to a close, the longer term issue of taking money out of the country was delayed until April, making bids for key players Adam Wharton and Sam Gallagher financially compelling.

Rovers issued a statement dismissing “social media speculation” that has done little to dampen concerns over the ability of the owners of the Championship club to fund the club in the long term as the Indian government cracks down on money leaving the country.

“Blackburn Rovers wish to allay concerns amongst our supporters regarding the latest legal proceedings and developments taking place in India involving our Owners,” the statement opened.

“The club can confirm that the adjournment of this week’s scheduled High Court hearing in Delhi will not impact the day-to-day funding of the club in any way.

“As is public knowledge, £11m of interim funding was made available to the club – backed by a personal guarantee – before Christmas, with a further tranche of funds set to be received in due course, which will cover club costs until at least the end of the season, in which time the Owners will be trying to get closure on the current investigation into one of their overseas companies.”

This investigation relates to the purchase of a converted farmhouse near Bolton in 2011, from footballer turned businessman Gary Neville, by Venkateshwara Hatcheries Pvt Ltd the ultimate beneficial owners of Blackburn Rovers.

The statement also said: “The Owners have given assurance to the Board and Executive of BRFC that they will continue to fully support the club, as they have done since they acquired the club in 2010.

“Whilst the club would not normally comment on social media speculation, we felt it was important to update supporters on the matter on this occasion.”