London: Blackburn global advisor Shebby Singh has rubbished claims that a Bollywood actor is a candidate to become the Championship club’s manager.
Rovers’s Indian owners Venky’s are searching for a new boss after sacking Henning Berg on Thursday just 57 days into his reign at Ewood Park.
With assistant manager Eric Black, first-team coach Iain Brunskill and goalkeeping coach Bobby Mimms also dismissed, Blackburn are short of options to lead the team into Saturday’s league clash at Barnsley.
That power vacuum prompted reports that Judan Ali, a youth and amateur coach who once featured in a Bollywood football movie, could be brought in to work as head coach alongside former Malaysia international Singh.
Television footage of Ali wearing a Blackburn kit at the club’s training ground emerged on Friday, but Singh insists the 39-year-old was just a guest of Rovers.
“No, no — he’s a guest of the club and, no, there’s been no appointments, there’s been no signings. None at all,” Singh told Sky Sports News.
“That’s rumour and speculation at the end of the day, what can I say? Please, I am serious now, no it’s not true.”
After sacking former Manchester United and Blackburn defender Berg following a run of one win in 10 matches, Venky’s would be taking a major gamble if they hired the novice Ali as a coach.
Brought up by Indian-born parents in London’s Brick Lane, Ali failed to make the grade as a player in Arsenal’s youth ranks in the 1980s and is then said to have spent time at Spanish club Murcia.
He enrolled in the FA’s COACH Bursary Programme, a scheme aimed at addressing under-representation among ethnic minorities in high-level coaching positions.
The FA sponsored Ali while taking his coaching badges and he informed the governing body’s official website of his lofty ambitions.
“My goal is to become the first British Asian Premier League manager,” Ali said.
“I also want to take a country to the World Cup when I have qualified and the 2022 tournament in Qatar is my goal.”
Ali has already documented his struggle for a breakthrough in the game in the 2007 film Dhan Dhana Dhan Goal, a story about the Asian community in the United Kingdom told through the eyes of Asian footballers.
While Ali would be a fascinating appointment, a more likely move for Rovers will be to install reserve team boss Gary Bowyer as a temporary first-team manager while the search for Berg’s successor continues.
“We’ve got capable people,” Singh said. “This club is well run, we’ve got proper people.
“Gary Bowyer has been reserve team and Under-21 manager for two years, he’s been at the club for eight years.
“Terry McPhillips, Tony Grant (both youth coaches) — these are great guys. They’ve been working so hard behind the scenes and people don’t realise all the good work that they’ve put in.
“So nothing of that sort (Singh and Ali taking training), it’s been business as usual.”