Will English Premier League club Blackburn Rovers soon have an Indian owner? If news, rumours and infos out of England and Mumbai are to be believed then a potential takeover is on the cards with due diligence over the books of the club currently taking place.
But who is the man willing to buy Blackburn Rovers? It is said to be 38 year old Saurin Shah, a businessman with shipping and textile interests from Mumbai, who happens to be the nephew of Niranjan Shah, the former BCCI (Board of Control for Cricket in India) secretary and now IPL (Indian Premier League) vice-president.
According to reports brokers in London were approached by Shah in April 2010 to look for a suitable Premier League club for him. Feelers were send out and the advisers along with Shah quickly moved in on Blackburn after also learning about its large South Asian population and the historical links to the textile industry. According to the 2001 Census, 14.3 percent of Blackburn's population is of Indian origin, with a further 11.5 percent of Pakistani origin. A perfect local target audience for an Indian owner, who has ideas to link football with cricket's IPL.
Shah through his Qubic Sports investment vehicle wants to create strong links between Blackburn and the IPL, which would allow cross-marketing. Many EPL clubs are eyeing the ever growing Indian market and with such a strategic tie-up in place Blackburn could take a key role in the market.
The first bid by Saurin Shah of 25 Million Pounds was rejected by the club. The new offer is set to be in the region of 35 to 45 Million Pounds. And it is set to be made after the due diligence is over. The board is set to open to the takeover as new fresh investments would come into the club with which is could challenge for a higher finish after last season finishing 10th.
But Saurin Shah isn't the first Indian trying to buy or being linked with an English Premier League club. Over the last few years the Ambani brothers - Mukesh & Anil - have been linked with different clubs. Mukesh with FC Liverpool; while his younger brother Anil with Newcastle United and FC Everton. Some British Asian businessmen have also tried to buy into smaller clubs, but so far only the Mittal family have a controlling stake in a club. They now control affairs at Championship side Queens Park Rangers FC and hope to gain promotion to the Premier League this season.