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Burnley manager Stan Ternent was dealt a blow with one of his out of contract players having quit Turf Moor despite them having been offered new deals with a second expected to follow him.

Damian Matthew, reportedly always keen to remain with Burnley after ending the 1997/98 season in good form, had already confirmed his Burnley days were over and he’d signed a two-year deal with fellow Division Two club Northampton.

Damian Matthew had signed for Northampton

He’d been with Burnley for two years, having arrived in a £65,000 move from Crystal Palace and was one of the influential players as we avoided the drop. In his two years at Burnley, Matthew had played over seventy games in which he had scored nine goals.

Gerry Harrison was repeating that he wanted to stay at Burnley, but Matthew had been saying just the same. He still hadn’t signed a new deal and was now looking very likely to sign for Luton, like Northampton in the same division as us.

He’d had talks with them and the deal was now expected to be wrapped up fairly quickly with chairman David Kohler conducting all their transfer business. He’d said the signing of Harrison was a priority.

There had been no further news regarding Chris Vinnicombe although it was now clear that he would not be remaining at Turf Moor. Both he and Harrison had been at Burnley for four years.

Ternent was expected to move quickly to fill the Vinnicombe gap with the signing of Bryan Small from his previous club Bury. England under-21 international Small, who had previously played for Aston Villa, Birmingham, Bolton, Luton and Bradford City, had initially signed a loan deal at Bury before making the move permanent.

He was out of contract at Gigg Lane and their new manager Neil Warnock had said: “Bryan won’t be the number one choice at left-back for me next season. I have a left-back in mind, and it isn’t Bryan.”

Ten days after the release of the fixtures came two changes. The home game against Millwall was scheduled for August Bank Holiday Monday but had been moved back a day to Tuesday, 1st September while the away game at Colchester would be played on Friday, 9th October rather than on the following day.

Colchester confirmed the reason for the change was due to them getting 25% bigger crowds on a Friday when not having to clash with any of Arsenal, Spurs or West Ham home games. It was confirmed that neither of these games had been selected by Sky television for broadcast and that none of Burnley’s games up to Christmas had been included on the Sky schedule.

Finally, one year on from leaving the manager’s hot seat at Burnley to assist Howard Kendall at Everton, Adrian Heath had taken over the top job at Goodison Park, albeit temporarily. After a traumatic season that had seen Everton very fortunate to avoid the drop, Kendall had walked out. Heath was not expected to get the job with Leicester’s Martin O’Neill immediately installed as favourite.

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