London – Blackburn Rovers are not for sale, the Indian owners of the club insisted Thursday following the team's relegation from English football's lucrative Premier League.
And they also said deputy chief executive Paul Hunt had left the club as a cost-cutting measure rather than been sacked over a leaked letter which called for the dismissal of manager Steve Kean.
Blackburn were relegated from the Premier League following a 1-0 defeat by Wigan on Monday.
In the latest of a series of protests against Venky's, an angry fan released a chicken wrapped in a Blackburn flag onto the Ewood Park pitch during the Wigan match with a one-word message: “Out.”
However, Venky's Venkatesh Rao told the Times of India on Thursday the firm wanted to keep Blackburn and had no intention of selling the north-west side.
“Yes, it is a company of ours and there is nothing whatsoever in (the speculation),” he said. “These allegations are not correct.”
Hunt's letter, written after a home defeat by local rivals Bolton in December, called for Scottish boss Kean to be sacked and urged Venky's, who took over the club in November 2010, to invest more money in new players.
Blackburn confirmed Hunt's departure on Thursday without saying why he'd gone but Rao denied it had anything to do with the letter.
“Some staff have to go to bring the budget down, it is nothing to do with it (the letter).”
Rao added supporters were entitled to criticise Venky's following relegation.
“We were relegated so naturally they are going to do that,” he said. “We have to come out of this situation, that's the most important thing. The fans have the right to do what they want.
“It's bound to happen when someone loses that somebody criticises. We have to come out of this situation. Nobody is to be blamed.”
Kean, vilified by large numbers of Blackburn fans, has vowed to carry on and Venky's appear to be standing by their manager.
However, Kean said Thursday he'd had no indication as to the extent of any job or wage cuts he would have to make amongst his playing staff.
“I don't know to what extent we will have to cut costs,” he said. “The budget is still be agreed. That will be a process that happens as quickly as possible.
“I think what we have got to do is assemble a squad and keep the players we can keep. Certainly the young players that are coming through, there is going to be lots of interest because they have done so well.
“We have established players like Paul Robinson and Morten Pedersen that have only played at a high level. I don't know if there will be other interest, but in conversation with them they are just as devastated as everyone else.
“I have spoken at great length with the owners and that will continue over the next six or seven days. The only objective for the owners and myself is to build a squad, it is as simple as that.”
Blackburn's final league game of the season is away to Chelsea on Sunday. – Sapa-AFP