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There are constant problems between owners and supporters of clubs in English football these days. Protests continue at such as Blackpool, Charlton, Coventry and now Leyton Orient over the way supporters feel their clubs are being run by the owners.

Thankfully, it’s never really been like that at Burnley. We had the ‘Teasdale Out’ protests of course during a period of years when the club stagnated and I still wonder where on earth we would be right now had Barry Kilby not come in during the 1998/99 season with the club, for a second successive season, hovering perilously close to the bottom of what is now League One.

I don’t think the club is perfect, not by any means, but it is run very quietly these days. Despite playing once more in the Premier League, we do most of our business as much as possible behind the scenes and if there is any dirty linen it is not washed in public.

You might suggest that current chairman Mike Garlick is a quiet, unassuming character. I don’t know him so that I don’t know but it is certainly how I’ve always found Kilby. It’s not always been like that at Burnley. From the mid-1950s until 1981 we were under the control, and it was control, of one Mr R. W. Lord who I think, it is fair to say, put Burnley on the map with his forthright views which he was always keen for everyone to know.

Such was his outspoken behaviour that making enemies was always likely. He had plenty in football and he had plenty locally too and there were local problems when one of them tried to buy some shares in the club.

It was December 1964 when the club received a request to transfer 100 shares from a Mr Luther Wilkinson to a Mr Eric Cookson. Both were well known to Lord, and both were well known in town. Wilkinson was, perhaps, better known as Jimmy McIlroy’s father-in-law while Cookson was described as a construction company chief.

The company was Howarth’s Builders. They were situated in a new building on Trafalgar Street in Burnley. It later occupied the Stephen Backhouse Group and is currently Oakmount Veterinary Centre.

Shares were, as they are now, £1 shares and Wilkinson wanted to sell his 100 to Cookson for £5 each. Lord was not a friend of Cookson, something he had made very clear, and he most certainly would not have been happy for him to have any kind of sizeable shareholding even though it was minimal and would have given him no power.

Lord refused the transfer. After something amounting to sharp criticism, Cookson accepted that he was not to get the shares but that was not the end of the story, far from it.

One month on and Wilkinson again attempted to sell his shares. This time it was to a 33-year-old company director and lifelong Burnley supporter from Brinscall, Chorley by the name of Mr Kenneth Bates.

When Lord said NO, he meant NO, so to suggest he was angry was very much understating the situation. He made it abundantly clear that these shares would not be transferred and there was no point Wilkinson returning with another attempt at transferring them.

Cookson might have gone reasonably quietly; Bates most certainly didn’t. The Brinscall based Claret was having none of it.

“I deeply resent the decision not to allow this transfer,” Bates said. “I have written to the board demanding an explanation and if I don’t get a satisfactory answer, I will regard this as an unwarranted slight on my character and take the matter further.”

He stressed that he was not making any attempt to get a place on the board but merely that he wanted to help the club to the extent of putting some money in. He said that the board’s action alienated the sympathy and support of yet another person at a time when the club needed all the help it could get.

“It’s a disgrace that a public company can restrict its share transfer,” Bates blasted. “This matter might well be examined by The Football League and Football Association with a view to amending their rules, and, from the company viewpoint it may be necessary to make representation to the Board of Trade.”

Bates was clearly keen to get involved in the running of Burnley Football Club but he should have known better than think upsetting Lord was the way to go about it. And so the chairman retaliated.

Angrily, he blasted: “If he wants to take this to The Football League, Mr Bates can do. if he wants to take it to The Football Association, he can do. If he wants to take it to the Board of Trade, he can do. In fact he can take the matter just where he likes as far as we are concerned.

“We must emphasise that the articles of association of Burnley Football and Athletic Company Limited clearly state that the directors may refuse to register any share transfer without giving a reason.

“As for the hint of putting money into the club, that’s very nice, but we are ok thanks very much.”

That was it. Mr Kenneth Bates was never heard of again in respect to shares and Burnley Football Club, but it was not the case in terms of football. Some short time later he acquired shares in Oldham Athletic, took over as chairman and appointed Mr Luther Wilkinson’s son-in-law Jimmy McIlroy as manager.

Bates wasn’t there long and disappeared from football for some years before returning to take over Wigan Athletic. In 1982 he bought Chelsea for £1 and after making his money with the sale to Roman Abramovic he enjoyed a period as chairman/owner of Leeds until finally, and mercifully some would say, leaving football for good.

I suppose it always begs the question – did Bob Lord do the right thing in keeping him out of Turf Moor?

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