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Blackburn Rovers Yakubu Calls on Protesting Fans to Support Team

March 3 (Bloomberg) -- Blackburn Rovers top scorer Yakubu called on fans to get behind the team and not protest its Indian owners ahead of today’s game against Aston Villa.

BRFC Action Group plans three simultaneous marches an hour before today’s match at Ewood Park in protest at Venky’s, the Indian poultry company that owns the team, and manager Steve Kean. Fans have called for Kean to be fired several times this season. Blackburn is 18th of 20 teams, a position that would lead to demotion to the second tier at the end of the season.

“We don’t want to see things like that,” Yakubu, who has netted 13 goals in 17 league games, said in an interview in Kigali, Rwanda, after representing Nigeria in a match there this week. “When a club is like this nobody is happy. They have to stick together with the team.”

Blackburn Rovers was one of the founding members of the English football league in the late 19th century and more recently was the 1995 Premier League champion after being taken over by local businessman Jack Walker. Since then, a series of relegations and promotions has seen the club battling more for top flight survival than honors.

Venky’s became the first Indian owners when they completed a 23 million-pound ($36.8 million) purchase in November 2010. The supporters group said in a statement this week “there is no alternative than to actively seek new ownership.”

Backed by Yak

Yakubu said he backed them to succeed at Blackburn, a town 25 miles (40 kilometers) north of Manchester, where United and City are competing for this year’s Premier League title.

“People like to judge you when they don’t know you,” the 28-year-old striker said. “I know the owners and they know me. I know what the owners can do. They always believe in the players. They want the club to achieve something and to stay in the Premier League.”

Kean was a surprise choice to replace Sam Allardyce, who was fired shortly after Venky’s takeover. He was the assistant manager before taking over the top role, a move that was met with criticism by large section of Blackburn supporters. Allardyce since was hired by second-tier West Ham United.

Some fans have verbally abused the Scotsman as he’s coached his team from the sidelines. Yakubu said Kean, who has won 14 of his 54 games in charge, remains popular with the players.

“It’s hard for the manager and it’s hard for us too,” he said. “He never puts us as players under pressure. He always believes in us. He wants to go on the pitch and perform the way we do in training. He makes you believe you can play football as a player you need that kind of manager in your team.”

Blackburn has lost 16 of its 26 games this season, including nine at home and 7-1 loss at Arsenal. Yet, it’s also managed to claim a victory at record 19-time champion Manchester United and took a point off Liverpool at Anfield.

“Nobody believed we’d get a point in Liverpool and beat Man U,” Yakubu said. “For me you don’t need to be down. You have to think about the next game. We lost 7-1 against Arsenal but then went and won 3-2 against QPR. It’s normal when you’re not playing well in the Premier League you’re going to lose.”

To contact the reporter on this story: Tariq Panja in London

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Christopher Elser at

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