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More and more players were being linked with moves to Burnley in the summer of 1997, but now came news that former assistant manager John Ward wanted to take striker Paul Barnes to Bristol City.

Adrian Heath immediately dismissed the speculation and said the striker, who had scored 24 goals in 40 league games in his first season with the Clarets having made a transfer record breaking move from Birmingham, would be going nowhere.

Paul Barnes – Majorca and not Bristol

Ward had just lost Australian striker Paul Agostino who had opted for a Bosman move to TSV 1860 Munich but Heath laughed at the suggestion that his record buy would be moving to Ashton Gate. “I haven’t heard that one,” he said. “Paul Barnes is not for sale and I can assure our fans that he will not be moving. We are in the process of building a squad and we are looking to add to it, not let our better players go.”

Turning his attentions to incoming players, he added: “We have a few players in mind as to who to bring in and we are hoping to take things further over the next couple of weeks. We aren’t going to start panicking yet, we have got plenty of time. I have spoken to a couple of players and their representatives and we are hoping to move things on a stage further.”

There were new names being mentioned again, one of whom was Shrewsbury’s 30-year-old defender and striker Dean Spink. He’d been with Shrewsbury for seven years having moved from Bury.

Heath denied there was anything in that one but again had Burnley fans scouring the Rothmans Football Yearbook looking for the identity of the Premiership international striker he was looking to bring in. It had all pointed to Iain Dowie but his was another name dismissed by Heath. The two new names in the frame were Wimbledon’s Efan Ekoku and Niall Quinn who was at Sunderland.

All Heath would say on the subject was: “If the right player becomes available we will be interested. We have got players in mind and I am also going over to Holland this weekend to take in a couple of games. Colin Harvey went over last week and I am going to take another look.”

It was believed that we’d turned down a big bid from Arsenal for Paul Smith while there was definite interest in Chris Brass from Southampton. Neither of those two players were likely to be made available and Heath would only say: “We have had a couple of tentative enquiries, but they are players we want to keep at the club. We have had no enquiries about the players we want to sell.”

Returning to Barnes, he was on his way out of Burnley. When contacted by the local press about the interest from Bristol City, he told them: “You’ll have to catch me quick, I’m off to Majorca.”

He did say he was enjoying life at Burnley. “We have a good rapport and work hard for each other,” he said. “It was hard for all of us, not least the fans, and obviously we were a bit deflated when we didn’t go up, but I think we have a good chance next season.” He admitted losing Ward didn’t help but said he was really looking forward to working with Harvey.

Away from the playing side of the club, there had been letters in the Burnley Express condemning the club’s decision to again refuse to allow the local cup finals and the schools Keighley Cup Final to be played on the Turf. One such letter included: “Mr Teasdale and his fellow directors should leave their sumptuous seating in the Bob Lord Stand and sit amongst the people who actually keep their company afloat. They will hear time and time again of the tales of many of their customers recounting the day that they played on the Turf. They will also hear the grumbling and discontent appertaining the present management’s policy towards local football.”

Having published news of Turf Moor potentially becoming a concert venue, there was already concern being expressed by local councillors. Speaking on behalf of the residents living close to Turf Moor, Councillor Arthur Park reported that there were already complaints coming in.

Councillor Peter Kenyon, who lived in Hufling Lane said he wanted any consultation to residents to be widened, claiming he could hear the roar of the crowd from his home and was sure he’d be able to hear the noise from certain entertainments.

There was a suggestion that a trial event could be held during the summer of 1998 but the councillors were told of five advantages in this project going ahead.

  • Enhancing the quality of life for Burnley’s residents through increased provision of art, music and recreation events.
  • Creating and safeguarding jobs within tourism, cultural and related industries.
  • Having economic benefits arising from an increase in visitor spending in and around the town centre.
  • Improving the image and awareness of Burnley to residents and those outside which may encourage businesses to come to the town.
  • Increasing private and public sector partnerships.

Meanwhile, Paul Barnes was enjoying Majorca.

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