Indian presence in English Premier League doubles

London: With Blackburn Rovers surviving relegation and Queens Park Rangers back in top-flight, Indian presence in the forthcoming season of English Premier League is all set to be doubled.

Blackburn, owned by Indian hatchery major Venky`s, won 3-2 against Wolverhampton on the final day of the league Sunday.

Ahead of their Sunday`s survival clash, Blackburn manager Steve Kean rushed to India to meet the owners, who were worried about the club`s future. Kean and his assistant John Jensen met Venky`s boss Anuradha Desai in Pune and assured her that they would survive relegation.

It was also rumoured that Kean was to be sacked, but after Sunday`s win he can breathe easy for another season.

The assurance that Kean gave to the owners also reflected in Venky`s generosity towards the fans. The owners gifted the travelling supporters, for Sunday`s match, with a letter of thanks to each and a 10-pound coupon for snacks and soft drinks.

Though Kean`s future at the club is unknown, another manager Neil Warnock is sure to cling on to the post at India-owned Queens Park Rangers into the Premier League next season.

Formula One boss Bernie Ecclestone has given his vote of confidence to Warnock, who led the team to promotion and the Championship title.

Ecclestone, a majority shareholder at Queen`s Park Rangers, also dismissed suggestions of a potential takeover by another shareholder, the Indian billionaire Lakshmi Mittal, who was reported to have launched a bid for the club Monday.

"Mittal put a statement out to say he was going to buy all the shares Monday. But it`s a bit like these Murdoch people saying they`re going to buy CVC (F1`s commercial rights holders). They have forgotten to ask if it`s for sale," Ecclestone was quoted as saying.

Bureau Report

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