London: Blackburn Rovers fans have cried foul at a new television advertisement to promote the Indian owners' chicken products, complaining that it has turned the Premier League team into a laughing stock.
The 25-second ad, which has appeared on screens in recent weeks in India, sees the northern English side in full kit and huddled in the dressing room as if having a pre-match team talk.
The players then cross themselves for good luck before the camera pulls back to reveal them eagerly tucking into plates of a variety of flavoured chicken wings produced by owners Venky's, an Indian poultry giant.
Opposition - and language - to the advert was strongest on YouTube, where hundreds of football fans lined up to criticise the video.
"No wonder they were crap the second half of last season. It was all the chicken," one poster wrote about the video, which had been viewed nearly 250,000 times by Thursday.
One Blackburn season-ticket holder wrote in a letter to the local Lancashire Evening Telegraph that the footballers' performance in the ad was "an utter embarrassment to the reputation of Blackburn Rovers".
"I am appalled to see my players being exploited for the pure purpose of raising the profile of the owners' products. We have become the laughing stock of the football world," she added.
Many respondents on the newspaper's website, however, dismissed her complaint, saying it was just "a bit of fun".
Blackburn, who were taken over by Venky's last November, finished three spots off the relegation zone last season after controversially sacking veteran manager Sam Allardyce.
Venky's takeover of the club, which won the Premier League title in 1995, has not been welcomed by many fans, who have criticised their lack of financial muscle and football experience.
With the new season just over a week away, Rovers have failed to make any big-money signings despite being linked with a host of major names.
Rovers had been due to become the first English Premier League side to visit India last month and were scheduled to play an exhibition match in Pune, home of Venky's, but pulled out after the July 13 bombings in nearby Mumbai.