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Thursday, December 18, 2008

In defence of football chairmen

I've just heard John Williams, the Blackburn Rovers chairman, being given a hard time by Mark Saggers on Radio Five for sacking Paul Ince and replacing him with Sam Allardyce. The "they didn't give him enough time" lobby, headed up by people who have no investment in the eventual outcome of the crisis that triggered the sacking, strikes me as plain naive.

If you're chairman of a Premiership football club you are responsible for one thing and one thing only - keeping the club in the Premiership. You have but one lever at your disposal that might, just might, have some effect on this. That's the replacement of the manager. Thanks to the strange, folksy ways of this industry, it's the only course of action that might make a difference. And even if it doesn't, the tribe are unlikely to blame you for it.

Therefore the chairman has to do it. Woe betide he does it too early, woe betide he does it too late. He has one window and that's the pre-Christmas period. I believe John Williams when he said that it has been a horrible week for him and he really wanted Ince to work out. Which he probably would have done, but by then they would have dropped down a division. And nobody forgives that.