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.


  1. You are so right about the naivety of the 'give him more time' calls on this one. As a life- long Rovers' fan, it has been irritating in the extreme to read the words of those who have said this from the comfort of the pundits' couch.

    The reality is that for a club with low gates, low ticket prices, no benefactor and exhausted credit lines, relegation could genuinely be a disaster.

    John Williams is an honourable chairman who wants to do the right thing both for the club, the fans and for his employees (witness his comments when Hughes left). He gave Ince, a decent man who was clearly out of his depth, too much time not too little.

    The best pundits and journalists saw this clearly. The others - just lazy.

  2. I personally think that Ince is an arrogant man (witness his self appointed nickname of "The Guvnor"). True, he had a brief, and successful, apprenticeship in the lower leagues, but to me it always looked that he was only doing that until the big club job which he believed was rightfully his came along. He should have stayed at MK Dons, a Work in Progress with a great deal of potential.

  3. Well said. But though John Williams said it had been a horrible week and he wanted Ince to work out, the truth is he has to be accountable for his decisions as much as the man he appointed.