Lee Hoos targets the Premier League

Turf Moor
Turf Moor

NEW chief executive Lee Hoos feels he has come to a forward-thinking football club, with a progressive manager in Eddie Howe.

And he believes Burnley is gearing up for a return to the Premier League on and off the pitch.

The American is assisting Howe in taking responsibility for player negotiations, in terms of transfers and contracts, leaving the manager more time to focus on preparing his players and team.

He is impressed with the way Howe operates, and believes in the potential at the club: “It was a no-brainer for me, coming here.

“There is a soft spot for Burnley out there. People do like the club, they like the tradition and like what it stands for. I think the way we play football too … you look at the youth cup right now, our boys are playing against some pretty big academies and doing a good job. That says a lot about the way we actually produce players and the training methods that we employ.

“If you’re a big club and you’ve got an up and coming star and you want to loan him out, you want to know that he’s being taken care of and someone’s got the right sports science and the right infrastructure in place to bring a player on.

“But I knew Burnley Football Club very well. Barry (Kilby) and I had been in contact before, and I’ve a lot of respect for the chairman.

“I was at Leicester the year Burnley got promoted, and I was really keeping an eye on them because they didn’t do it with a lot of money, they kept things sensible in the Premier League as well.

“I probably celebrated as much as a Burnley fan when they beat Manchester United!

“I actually thought Burnley were going to stay up that year, and they were so close.”

Back in the Championship, the aim is for a return to those heady days, and Hoos added: “There is room to develop the infrastructure here,and there always will be when you’ve got a manager who is progressive like Eddie.

“He’s always going to be looking for the next step, which I think is the sensible thing to do.

“He’s a really good guy. He’s just so easy to get on with. And that’s the great thing about it; he’s ambitious, he’s young and he’s progressive, but his feet are just so on the ground.

“He wasn’t up there when we were on the run, and he wasn’t down there because we lost at Southampton.

“He knows it’s a steady focus.”

He mentions the successful youth team, and Hoos is keen to bring that to the forefront, to bring the club back to the reputation they held in the 1960s and 70s for producing their own players: “We have the centre of excellence on board now with the Elite Player Performance Plan coming into effect, so we’re looking at what we need to do to meet the relevant qualifications and even step up if we possibly can.

“We’re in between a level two and three grading.

“There’s a lot of investment that will be involved in trying to get the two but we’re better than a three!”

Outgoing chief executive Paul Fletcher was involved in ambitious plans to develop the ground, in particular the Cricket Field Stand - plans that were derailed by the worldwide financial crisis.

And Hoos explains that those blueprints remain on the backburner for now: “I would see that as a very long-term project.

“In terms of ground extensions and things like that, first of all you need to have the resources to do it, which we don’t have right now, secondly there has to be demand there.

“I’m not one of these people who thinks ‘build it and they will come’, you’ve got to have the demand there already to justify any kind of capacity increase.

“I remember when I first met Paul, he was at Coventry at the time and he did a presentation to the league on dual usage of arenas and stadia, which is a very sensible idea obviously, but I think right now that’s way down the road.”

Hoos comes with experience from working at big city clubs - Fulham, Leicester City and Southampton, and he explained how he entered a career in football: “I was headhunted by Mohamed Al Fayed just out of the blue.

“I was living in the States in the time, working for UPS. I’ve no idea how he got my name.

“I had a legal background and worked in HR. When I went in to Fulham, Kevin Keegan was in charge, and Kevin said the biggest problem he had at Newcastle when they went up to the Premier League was that the football was good enough, but the infrastructure was a nightmare.

“Al Fayed said he was going to grow the infrastructure at Fulham one step ahead of the football. And that was basically my job, to create an infrastructure that was Premier League.

“It was Championship when they were in League One, and Premier League when they went up, so we were always one step ahead of the game, which was a great education for me in terms of football.”