The Turf Moor stand that never was
There was big news coming out of Burnley Football Club in August 1967 that would transform Turf Moor into one of the finest stadiums in English football.
Back then, the club’s financial year ended on 31st March and the AGM would always be held just before the new season kicked off. On this occasion, the club, for only the fourth time since the war, were reporting a loss. The figure was £1,534 but when Corporation tax was added that became £3,782.
The board revealed that soaring costs were the reason. The wage bill, for example, had increased significantly. In 1964/65 it had been £79,836, rising to £100,675 in 1965/66. In the previous season there had been another increase to £116,241.
Travelling and hotel costs had also gone up from £12,159 to £19,132 although that involved expenses in connection with the Inter Cities Fairs Cup campaign.
Even so, the directors still recommended the payment of a dividend on the company’s shares of five per cent, free of income tax, and the spending had even increased for the new season with the signing of Frank Casper, a 22-year-old attacking midfielder from Rotherham United.
Just as shareholders were taking in that information, the bombshell came with big rises in admission and season ticket costs. The club stressed that there would be no increase for old age pensioners or for Central League games.
For first team games, adults would be required to pay 5 shillings instead of 4s, a rise of 25%, with juveniles hit with a 50% increase from 2s to 3s. There was also a shilling increase for the enclosure and stand although the one shilling advance booking fee for seats had been scrapped.
Differing charges were to continue for men and women who bought season tickets. A ground ticket for a man increased from three guineas to four guineas (£4 4s) but for ladies the increase was £1 from £2 10s to £3 10s.
Supporters weren’t happy, but Bob Lord always had a reputation for pulling a rabbit out of the hat if he came under any pressure at an AGM. I don’t know whether there was any pressure in 1967 from the shareholders, given that he had many of them in his pocket, but he pulled out the biggest rabbit yet with news that the ground was to get a £500,000 face lift.
He confirmed that over the next five years there would be major development of Turf Moor starting with the demolition of the cricket field end terrace to start in September. All the money would be coming from the booming Turf Moor Development Association, run by Jack Butterfield, which already had three schemes running successfully and was about to launch a fourth.
The original intention was to build a new stand to replace the Bee Hole End terrace, but there were objections to that, so the first stage of the redevelopment switched to the other end of the ground.
Lord told the shareholders: “In September the Cricket Field End stand will be closed, demolition will commence, and in its place will rise a new stand to seat 4,500 spectators. Seat prices will be moderate, comfort will be first class, it will all be heated, and all facilities will be adequate.”
He continued: “Temporary rooms will be built in this stand to house all the players, with administrative rooms similar to those now under the main stand. When completed next July all activities in the main stand will be transferred to this new stand. This will enable us to proceed with the demolition of the Brunshaw Road main stand, and in its place will be erected one of the most modern cantilever stands in the country.”
The new stand, he confirmed, would hold about 8,000 spectators, would also be heated throughout and would include private boxes.
“The timetable for all this is two years,” Mr Lord confirmed. “And by 1970 Turf Moor should rank with the best in league football. Further to that, we have plans going ahead for developing entertainments and should we not be successful in being able to buy further land adjoining Turf Moor we can still manage a dance hall and a large club room.”
Mr Lord told the meeting that there were big challenges ahead with top flight football in Lancashire now only to be seen in Manchester, Liverpool and Burnley, and that we had to take these giant strides forward or go backwards, and his directors had no intention of going backwards.
The football club had bought a strip of land from the cricket club behind the old stand, enabling them to go ahead with the new stand, and in the days following the AGM came further news of a bid for more cricket club land.
It was for a 3,000 square yard area fronting Brunshaw Road from the Wellington traffic lights to the football ground. The plan was to provide an entertainment centre on the land to further enhance the facilities at Turf Moor.
Such a sale was considered beneficial to both clubs with the cricket club paying their current professional Charlie Griffith in excess of £1,000 for the season. Despite claims there was no crisis from Burnley Cricket Club chairman Harry Langton, the poor weather in the season to date had given them further problems. By early August less than £200 had been taken at the turnstiles.
Mr Lord had previously indicated his desire to take over the entire cricket club ground but that had been ridiculed by Langton. Even so, it was thought at the time that they would have to find a new ground to play Lancashire League games, if not in 1968 by the end of the decade at latest.
Lord was non committal and said: “I do not wish to say anything. I am not prepared to confirm or deny this. But I will repeat what I told shareholders last week that our development ideas are big.”
They were exciting times for Burnley who, by the time the cricket club news broke, had kicked off the new season with a 2-1 win against Coventry with goals from new signing Casper on his debut and Willie Irvine in his first game back after the broken leg he’d suffered in January of that year.Share this page :