They arrived with visions of Ronaldinho and David Beckham, sacked Sam Allardyce on the grounds he was not the man to deliver Champions League football and asked a coach with no managerial experience to advance on a reduced budget. It may be glib to say the chickens have come home to roost for Venky's, the Indian poultry company who completed a £44m takeover of Blackburn Rovers in November 2010, but its calamitous reign has yielded the result the suffering supporters have long protested was inevitable under Steve Kean. The Championship awaits them.
A late defeat by Wigan Athletic, who secured their Premier League status with a style, belief and sense of purpose that shames Blackburn, relegated Rovers from the top flight for the first time since 2001. The end encapsulated the torment that had gone before. Ewood Park erupted in calls for Venky's to go and for Kean to follow suit, as it had been doing all night and for most of a sorry season. The Rovers manager ignored pleas from his personal bodyguard to disappear down the tunnel as roughly two dozen angry supporters invaded the pitch and tennis balls bearing the message "Kean Out" rained down from the skies.
Early in the game play had been interrupted by the appearance on the pitch of a chicken draped in Blackburn colours. It was caught by the formidable bulk of Yakubu Ayegbeni – never to be seen again. When Blackburn will be seen back in the Premier League is also open to question given the club's trajectory under Venky's.
For a club fighting to preserve their Premier League status and supposedly stung by criticism that the team had surrendered in defeat at Spurs, Blackburn's exit was feeble in the extreme. They sank as Kean had risen as manager; without trace. Rovers were 13th when Allardyce was dismissed midway through last season, officially for his style of football and ability to propel the club into the elite, allegedly for his refusal to have signings imposed on him.
Whatever the truth, the club were far from the imbalanced and inexperienced unit that have lost seven in eight league matches and whose relegation was confirmed when Antolín Alcaraz headed home Jean Beausejour's corner with three minutes remaining.
Blackburn had a legitimate penalty appeal denied in the second half, when Emmerson Boyce clipped Junior Hoilett's heel, and at least troubled Ali Al-Habsi in the Wigan goal after a moribund first-half display in which the visitors should have established a comfortable lead. Yet this was no hard-luck story.
Kean has worked within tight financial restraints throughout his 18 months in charge, as Venky's has reduced the wage bill and average age of the squad, while coming under pressure itself from the club's bankers to reduce the overdraft. Key players have been sold for hefty fees, notably Phil Jones and Chris Samba, experienced assets such as Ryan Nelsen and Brett Emerton have been allowed to walk away, the New Zealand defender and former club captain with no logical explanation, while Michel Salgado has not appeared this year to spare Rovers a 12-month extension to his contract. Yet it would be remiss to absolve the manager of blame for the state of theBlackburn squad.
Eight players have arrived during Kean's reign for a cost of over £20m but only two – Yakubu and Scott Dann – started against Wigan. Bradley Orr and Anthony Modeste, a January free and loan signing respectively, completed the number of Kean recruits to a side handed the responsibility of preserving Blackburn's Premier League status. But it was Wigan, and a Rovers support in open revolt, who made the most convincing statement on a rain-sodden night.
Kean took the bold decision to counter the wing-back system that has propelled Wigan towards safety with a three-man attack of Yakubu, Hoilett and Modeste, making only his third start for the club since arriving from Bordeaux. That gave Victor Moses and Shaun Maloney freedom on both flanks to maintain their hugely impressive form and Wigan controlled the first half, Franco Di Santo twice going close and Paul Robinson saving well from Moses before he squandered a gift of a back-post header from Di Santo'sdeep ball.
David Dunn was raucously cheered for one committed tackle, so too the Blackburn youngsters who have reached the FA Youth Cup final against Chelsea and offer some distant hope for the future when they appeared on the pitch at half-time. But the game was played against a backdrop of incessant "Kean Out" chants, demands for Venky's to sell up and laments for the late Jack Walker. One protestor ran on to the pitch at the start of the second half and threw his season ticket away in disgust. But at Martínez, the Wigan manager. Kean's personal bodyguard ran to the manager's side in complete bewilderment.
Yakubu and Modeste both went close before the referee Mark Clattenburg dismissed the penalty calls. Wigan always looked the more composed and cohesive side, however, and with three minutes to play Alcaraz's header flew beyond Robinson's despairing grasp and Blackburn were down. Not one Rovers supporter was surprised.