Venky's will not sell Blackburn Rovers

NEW DELHI Thu May 10, 2012 9:41pm IST

Blackburn Rover's joint owner Balaji Rao (L) and Venkatesh Rao of Venky's Ltd react ahead of their English Premier League soccer match against Arsenal in Blackburn, northern England in this September 17, 2011 file photo. REUTERS/Nigel Roddis/Files

Blackburn Rover's joint owner Balaji Rao (L) and Venkatesh Rao of Venky's Ltd react ahead of their English Premier League soccer match against Arsenal in Blackburn, northern England in this September 17, 2011 file photo.

Credit: Reuters/Nigel Roddis/Files

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NEW DELHI (Reuters) - Indian owners Venky's will not sell relegated Blackburn Rovers and they sacked deputy chief executive Paul Hunt to cut costs, the poultry company said on Thursday.

"It is a company of ours and there is nothing whatsoever (in rumours of a sale). These allegations are not correct," the company's joint managing director Venkateshwara Rao told Times Now channel.

Speculation that Hunt had been dismissed because of a letter he wrote calling on Venky's to sack manager Steve Kean in December was untrue, Rao said.

"The sacking was not because of that," Rao added. "Some staff have to be...you know...to keep the budget down. Nothing to do with it."

Blackburn were relegated from the Premier League following a 1-0 defeat by Wigan Athletic on Monday after a tumultuous season marred by fan protests prompted by the club's lack of success and unpopular moves by the owners who completed a $37-million takeover in November 2010.

Hunt's dismissal was confirmed after the letter, written when Blackburn fell to the bottom of the Premier League, was made public.

His departure adds to the sense of unease at Rovers who have lost their place among the elite for the first time in 11 years.

Rao shrugged off criticism of the owners from club supporters, saying: "Fans have the right to do whatever they want.

"It's bound to happen when somebody loses...We have to come out of this situation. Nobody is to be blamed."

(Reporting by Amlan Chakraborty; Additional reporting by Mike Collett in London; Editing by Clare Fallon)

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