The money and the power moves east on the M65
Back in the early 1990s, although two divisions higher than us, our local rivals Blackburn Rovers were in dire straits financially. On more than one occasion they had their phone cut off through non-payment and they were hovering close to the drop into what is now League One.
Suddenly, this cash strapped club signed Bobby Mimms from Spurs along with Tony Dobson and Steve Livingstone from Coventry and things picked up immediately. It was a mystery initially but news soon surfaced that local businessman Jack Walker had dipped his hand into his pocket.
Over the next decade or so, until his death in 2000, he did far more than dip his hand into his pocket. He bankrolled them into and to the top of the Premier League and, even though we did win a couple of promotions ourselves , he took them so far away from us that I certainly thought we’d never get close to them again.
For most of that time I worked in Salford Quays and I recall one Manchester City fan in particular whose club was very much the same as ours, they couldn’t compete with their wealthier (and note I don’t use the word bigger) rivals. No matter how big or small your club is, it is so hard when you can’t even compete with those closest to you geographically.
We didn’t play them very often. When Brian Kidd took them down in 1999 they had two years outside of the top flight. We played them in the second of those seasons after our promotion but there’s little I want to say about those games.
Then there was the FA Cup in 2005 when we did well. but lost, and that was followed in the 2009/10 season with two games in the Premier League, our first clashes in the top flight since 1966. We lost both those games too, the second of them due to some blatant cheating. We went down and we were still some way behind them.
That was about to change. Later that year the Walker Trust, who had owned the club since 2000, sold it to Venky’s, and that brought with it the almost immediate sacking of manager Sam Allardyce and the appointment of Steve ‘Agent’ Kean.
Such was the chaos at Ewood, with chickens on the pitch, the owners being pelted with snow balls and, of course, Shebby Singh, that we have wrestled the upper hand from them. In six league games we’ve drawn three, two of which we were so unfortunate not to win, and won three. It’s their fans now counting the years since they could last remember beating us.
But never has the switch been better highlighted than in the last couple of days as both clubs released their annual accounts for 2014/15.
I’m not an accountant and rely on others to examine them in more detail, but I can read the headlines as well as anyone else and they don’t make pretty reading for our rivals at a time when things are looking as healthy as they have ever done down at Turf Moor.
Just a few days ago, Alan Myers left the board at Blackburn, this coming soon after the dismissal of former Preston chairman Derek Shaw. That’s left them with just three directors with Robert Coar and Mike Cheston based here and Gandhi Babu over in India.
They are supposedly going to invest heavily this summer but recently appointed manager Paul Lambert has still not discussed the summer plans with the owners. Unlike previous managers he’s not been on regular flights to India and he’s now spoken out about the situation. I can’t imagine that going down well with the owners.
Still, the impressive financial results yesterday suggested an improvement, but only because they only lost £17.2 million, a massive £24.9 million improvement on the year before. They are now an incredible £104.2 million in debt albeit £87 million of that is owed to Venky’s.
If anyone thinks most of the debts being with the owners is not a problem, could I mention Eddie Davies and Bolton Wanderers. That money owing would have been £3 million higher but that amount was converted into shares to get round the FFP rules that had prevented them signing players.
Quite honestly, they can big it up as much as they like, the report and figures were music to the ears of Burnley supporters and we’ve been greeted today with our financial report.
Again, without even attempting to go into detail, the headline news is that we made a record £30.1 million profit last year and it was all positive news coming out of Turf Moor.
Chairman Mike Garlick reported that the club opted to clear all the external and internal debts and also pay off the Turf Moor Bond holders and those involved with the ground buy-back. Added to that is the work that has been done at Turf Moor in recent months in terms of the new offices with the new shop and ticket office to come.
All of that and the £10 million plus project being carried out at Gawthorpe that will bring our 60-year-old training ground up to modern standards and give us something to be proud of.
That’s our legacy from the Premier League. We have a well run club with no debt. We are in a strong position now in the Championship and, should we go up again, it will make us even stronger.
Some might say we didn’t push the boat out enough last season, and there is no doubt a bit more last January might just have helped, but I wouldn’t swap the position our club is in right now for that of many others, certainly not those down the road nor those at Horwich who, not too long ago, were claiming to be ten years ahead of us.
Back in the dark days of the 1990s, I really didn’t think I’d ever see us get close to Blackburn again. Now we are stronger than them on the pitch, as recent results have shown much to our delight, we are stronger off the pitch and we’ve got a stable, positive club which is somewhat different to what you will find at Ewood.
There’s no doubt about it, the money and power really has moved east on the M65.
And, Up the Clarets can confirm that Paul Fletcher will not be returning to Burnley Football Club as part of the redevelopment of the cricket field stand.Share this page :