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Premier League first as Indian owners to take over Blackburn


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(Blackburn chairman John Williams (left) and manager Sam Allardyce will welcome new investment into the club)

(CNN) -- Blackburn is set to become the first English Premier League side to come under Indian ownership, the club confirmed Tuesday.

Blackburn chairman John Williams told the club's website that a deal with poultry giants Venkys would likely be completed in November.

He said that after "detailed talks" with the Premier League and an "extensive due diligence process" that the way was clear for the groundbreaking deal.

Venkys chairperson Anuradha J. Desai added: "We expect to be the first Indian company to acquire a Premier League team and we are particularly delighted that the team is Blackburn Rovers, with whom we believe we have many shared values and ambitions."

The terms of the sale are yet to be disclosed, but Venkys joint managing director B Venkatesh Rao told CNBC the deal was worth ?46 million ($72.97 million), with the full amount to be paid upfront.

Venky's is part of the ?290 million ($459m) valued Venkateshwara Hatcheries (VH) group, which is listed on the Mumbai stock exchange.

The acquisition by the Indian conglomerate would take the number of English Premier League clubs with solely foreign ownership to nine, and comes in the wake of Liverpool's highly-publicized sale to New England Sports Ventures, who own the Boston Red Sox baseball team.

Aston Villa, Birmingham City, Chelsea, Fulham, Manchester City, Manchester United and Sunderland are also under exclusively foreign control while Arsenal, Blackpool and West Ham have influential foreign shareholders.

Blackburn's mooted sale would end a two-year wait for a buyer at Ewood Park, after the Jack Walker Trust put the club up for sale hoping to attract fresh investment.

In that time two other Indian buyers, Saurin Shah and Ahsan Ali Syed, have seen prospective bids falter.

With Blackburn currently languishing just above the Premier League relegation zone, manager Sam Allardyce needs a cash injection to strengthen his squad.

Venkys certainly has the financial capacity to oblige. The group posted a profit of $187 million last year and has an annual turnover of $1.58B.

Formed in 1976, the conglomerate has diversified in recent years to include nutritional supplements and healthcare products for humans alongside their mainstream poultry products.

Blackburn won the English Premier League title in 1995 as former owner Jack Walker ploughed millions into the club, but have not enjoyed comparable success in the intervening years.

Source : CNN

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