Burnley Football Club Takeover – Dave Thornley’s View.
Memo to the new owners: In case you are not already aware (and if you are not, then you ought to be), here are some of the things supporters of Burnley Football Club expect of you and what you can expect from those supporters in return; things which were perhaps excluded from the fit and proper persons test, but which are important, nonetheless.
First of all, please refrain from sweeping into the club with outlandish promises of Champions League football in five years, or big-name signings; Burnley fans aren’t daft and we wouldn’t be buying it.
What we do expect is that Sean Dyche be afforded the resources to improve both the quality and the quantity of his playing squad. Dyche has more than earned this right and he should be left alone to utilise an enhanced transfer budget as he sees fit.
There is a scene from the Damned United in which Brian Clough instructs his Chairman to “just sign the bloody cheques”. It may be apocryphal, but one can readily imagine Clough saying such a thing and the same applies now as much as it did in Clough’s day.
The budget on transfer fees is one thing but the wages paid to the players is quite another. Burnley too often miss out on their transfer targets by not offering a high enough salary. If you have read the book “Soccernomics” you will know that the success of a club is directly proportionate to payroll, not the money spent on transfers. If you haven’t read this book, I recommend you do so, you can even borrow my copy.
Secondly; by all means spruce up the stadium at Turf Moor, but whatever you do, don’t ever consider installing us in a soulless glass and concrete bowl on the edge of town. Turf Moor is at the heart of the town, of the community, it is a focal point; its stands and floodlight towers are readily visible sentinels as one drives into the town. To lose that would be to lose something of intangible but none-the-less enormous value.
Consider instead the funding of a re-location of Burnley Cricket Club to enable that end of the ground to be opened up into a concourse and allow the construction of a stand to replace the existing structure which is over half a century old and is showing its age. By the way, I have banged on about this for long enough, but this new stand should be named after the greatest sportsman the town has ever produced; James Anderson.
Thirdly; please don’t bring with you any of the terminology and tendencies of American team sports; Burnley is a club, not a “franchise”; we play football, not “soccer” and when the scores in a game are equal, it is a draw, not a “tie”. Crucially, football in this country is all about location and community and teams are never moved from town to town at the whim of the owners.
A few other things to consider; a zero tolerance of racist, homophobic and misogynistic language and behaviour from anyone connected with the club – including the supporters – would be welcome; as would the continuation and enhancement of the excellent work the club undertakes in the community; you may also wish to place an increased emphasis on the women’s team.
Finally, and most importantly, be aware that you are inheriting a proud history with deep-rooted traditions and values. Together these form Burnley’s identity, an identity which has been passed down the generations and of which you are now custodians; just as Mike Garlick, Barry Kilby and Bob Lord before you were custodians. You get to write your own page in the club’s history; how that will read to future generations is up to you.
Do all this and in return you can rely on the unswerving loyalty and commitment of Burnley fans everywhere. Some will be critical, but the criticism comes from a deep-seated desire to see the club do well. If you take the time to afford the fans the decency of communicating your policies and your decisions with clarity and a sense of purpose, then, whilst you may not assuage all the critics, you will at least maintain their respect.
We fans can tolerate losing matches, we can even tolerate being relegated, but what we will not stand for is being treated with disdain.
Finally, a note on the sad passing of Tommy Docherty, whose son Michael was a buccaneering right back in Jimmy Adamson’s brilliant Burnley team of the early seventies.
Docherty senior was, of course, a reasonably successful – and much travelled- manager and one of the game’s characters; a gifted raconteur, adept with the one-liners.
He was largely – but not universally – popular with the players he managed who would refer to the humour and positivity of his training sessions and team talks. But the game’s major honours largely eluded him and in comparison to some of his contemporaries such as Clough or Paisley, he perhaps lacked their attention to detail and sheer will-to-win. His teams were always easy to watch but not always hard to beat.
Rest in peace, Doc, the game is poorer for your loss.
Dave Thornley bored with the absence of the Fulham game to reflect on, chooses instead to give a “heads up” to Alan Pace and the Velocity Sports Partnership. (TEC).