Indian businessman Ahsan Ali Syed is in talks with the Jack Walker estate which manages Blackburn for a potential takeover.
Ali Syed heads the wealth management company Western Gulf Advisories headquartered in Bahrain and his personal wealth has been estimated at £7bn. He has promised funds up to £100m which is loads of money in this cash strapped economy.
Some nuggets on the man behind the takeover:
He was born in Hyderabad to a family that made its fortune in cotton, an association that should sit well with Blackburn, once known as the cotton capital of the UK.
Ali Syed was educated at the LSE- so there are some past connections to England. His company has acquired a reputation turning distressed assets into performing assets. The company has focused on investing in real estate and property developments with successful ventures in New South Wales and Queensland. They have also bought into Irish real estate developers McCabe Group in a cash for equity partnership.
The website carrying his picture is a gif that changes into a white horse (Shadowfax?) charging down and not a unicorn, which Blackburn fans will be thankful for. More dubious is his claim that he does not want to buy the club for its business potential but to fuel his “passion” for football. Now that sounds like malarkey. He’s never been to Blackburn and when pressed declined to name a single player.
He is a huge cricket fan and his “true passion” is buying thoroughbreds for his Western Gulf stables. Ali Syed looks like he is more in tune with buying the next big team in the IPL.
Why Blackburn? This takeover even if taken in the narrowest investment terms represents very little potential for profitability as Blackburn’s base is one of the smallest in the Premiership. Roman Abramovich has suffered losses in his Chelsea investment and converted it into equity in a club with more name recognition even pre takeover days. There maybe some chances of Blackburn tapping into the huge Indian interest in the Premiership given Ali Syed’s connections but there again, the big clubs are in far more advantageous position.
“We have a 15-year investment fund for the club, split into three five-year segments,” he added.“In the first we will strengthen and retain our Premier League status, invest in the academy for the production of young players, invest in the stadium, and focus on marketing in the Middle East, the Far East and the Indian subcontinent to increase Blackburn Rovers as a brand.”
A 15 year plan is not exactly a timeframe that companies in the business of turning around distressed or non- performing assets into profitability have in mind. This really sounds like an outlier project. Still, Ali Syed sounds like he has real money (of his own) and is not a frontman for shadowy economic interests presently dogging the Liverpool effort. If he is sincere about the long haul then his vision for Blackburn as a global brand could bear fruit.