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Rovers to go the Barca Way

Steve Waggott, Blackburn Rovers Chief Executive

Blackburn Rovers’ new chief executive says he is looking to follow in Barcelona’s footsteps as he aims to turn Ewood into a hub for the whole community. Steve Waggott, who has had spells at Southend United, Gillingham and Charlton Athletic, is aiming to turn Rovers’ home into what he described as an “innovative community stadium”.

Speaking at the latest Hive Business Network meeting with Blackburn with Darwen’s business leaders, Mr Waggott said he was attempting to create a similar ethos to the Spanish giants that he recreated at Charlton’s Valley Stadium.

Facilities included a further education college as well as other community-based interests which put the Addicks at the centre of the Greenwich community.

He said: “I want it to be an innovative community stadium so that everyone from youngsters right up to senior citizens can come in 365 days a year. And through that we can hopefully attract new businesses in to see what we are doing. I’ve seen what Barcelona do, and I did something similar at Charlton, where it is not just a football club playing 90 minutes on a Saturday.

“We want to be much more than that. We’ve got to be part of the local plan, part of the growth and have the whole brand carried across the whole of Lancashire hopefully.

“Obviously Burnley are setting the benchmark for the level of funding they have got in cash. We have the giants down the road in Liverpool and Manchester.

But we want to be successful. The whole area will be regenerated by the success of Rovers along with other teams in the area.” And Mr Waggott said he was planning some new developments at Ewood Park, details of which will be released in the near future.

He said: “I’ve seen the council and the senior council people because I’m looking at some new developments at Ewood to make it a destination. It’s going to be multi-dimensional so we need all the partners involved.

“The success of a football club in a town like Blackburn is phenomenal in terms of what it can do with the local economy. If you remember what happened when Jack Walker was at the helm and the club won the Premier League so the potential is huge.

“We have to get our product right, which is the first team. The 90 minutes on the pitch determines the commercial buzz around the club.

“But once we get that right, which we have done under Tony Mowbray of late, and if we can keep pushing ahead with that, I know we will attract more businesses because they will see the joined-up thinking with the brand.

“And a successful Rovers brand alongside the brands of local businesses will be beneficial for both. It’s more of a partnership. It’s not only what they can do for us in terms of sponsorship and advertising etc but also what we can do for other businesses to make it a real partnership so that we can grow together.”