PFA hits out at Shebby Singh comments
The Professional Football Association has voiced its support for Blackburn midfielder Morten Gamst Pedersen after the club's global adviser, Shebby Singh, referred to him as a "pensioner" at a fans' open day.
Singh, who later apologised, hit out at the long-serving Norwegian midfielder, telling supporters at the event he had "lost his legs", "has not been contributing to the team" and he had failed to reinvent himself in a central midfield role.
His comments sparked anger at the players' union, which said it had been holding talks with players at Rovers, who were relegated from the Premier League season amid on and off-field problems.
A PFA statement said: "The PFA have been in discussions with the players at Blackburn Rovers in relation to the recent comments made by Shebby Singh.
"We share their considerable disappointment that anyone connected to Blackburn Rovers would make such disrespectful comments about a player like Morten Gamst Pedersen.
"The feeling within the squad is that, as a group of players, they support each other but particularly someone like Morten, who is so respected within the club and indeed the game."
The statement said the sort of personal criticism dished out by Singh, appointed by unpopular Rovers owners Venky's over the summer, "is never acceptable" and had "shocked" the Blackburn players.
"Whilst accepting that anyone can have an opinion on football, someone in such a position of responsibility should be more mindful of the comments he makes," it added.
"Any comments that are made should be based on fact, and it is our understanding that the club's statistics on Prozone over the last season completely disprove any such uninformed views.
"He [Singh] should be mindful of bringing the game and the club into disrepute and being completely disrespectful to a player who has served Blackburn Rovers with distinction during his eight-year career, representing the club in 260 matches and scoring 34 goals."
And the organisation questioned Singh's apology, saying it "didn't seem to retract the comments"
Singh had also told supporters at the event in Blackburn on Saturday that manager Steve Kean would "definitely" be sacked if Rovers lost three matches in a row at the start of the season.
Kean, along with Venky's, was the subject of numerous fan protests as Rovers lurched to relegation last season, and the fans' forum was held in an attempt to improve communication with supporters.
Speaking on Monday, Singh said: "I would like to send an apology to Steve Kean because some things were said on Saturday. I think they would have hurt Steve Kean's feelings, and for that I sincerely apologise.
"Some things are said in jest that don't come across like that when repeated, but I am not making excuses. I apologise for hurting any feelings.
"I would also like to apologise to Morten Gamst Pedersen for what was said. There are no excuses and Morten is a great character.
"My blunt honesty sometimes upsets people and sometimes rubs people up the wrong way. I am making efforts to bring the club back to the fans and, in trying to do that, I have gone too far. I am trying to find the middle ground."
The Professional Footballers' Association issued a statement in support of Pedersen on Thursday afternoon, chastising Singh's "apology which didn't seem to retract the comments, rather Mr Singh simply implied he was 'too honest for his own good'".