OUTGOING Burnley chairman Barry Kilby admits it remains as hard as ever to keep hold of the club’s best players.
With Jay Rodriguez on the verge of a £7m. move to Premier League Southampton – with talks set to take place this week – Kilby, who resigned his post last month to focus on health issues, feels it is often a case of accepting reality and trying to get the best price for assets.
The club has had to adapt since the heyday of the 1960s, losing star names to bigger clubs, particularly after the introduction of the minimum wage in 1961.
And with the appeal of the Premier League, players want to ply their trade at the top level if the opportunity arises – as with Chris Eagles and Tyrone Mears, who left for Bolton last summer.
And Kilby said: “Clubs who want your players are generally after your best players. It’s quite difficult, and it’s not even your decision quite often.
“If a player wants to go, even if you’ve no economic necessity for him to go and you want to keep him, it’s not easy to do that.
“If a player is tempted these days it’s extremely hard for you to just refuse and the player just to accept it – particularly if it’s for a bigger wage and a bigger club coming in.”
But Kilby is proud of the club’s record in the transfer market, in terms of getting top dollar for their assets.
Over the last decade, the club has sold Robbie Blake (£1.5m, returned for £250,000), Richard Chaplow (£1.5m), Ade Akinbiyi (£1.5m, returned for £600,000), Andy Gray (£2m), Kyle Lafferty (£3.25m), Steven Fletcher (£6.5m), Mears and Eagles (£3m combined) and Danny Fox (£1.8m).
And Kilby said: “I think Burnley has a decent reputation about being smart kids on the block.
“We’ve had to be. I think in our dealings we’ve been right.
“Generally speaking I think we’ve done well in our player trading.
“We’ve had to look on that as an extra source of income on top of our commercial and TV revenues, which isn’t easy again, as all the time you’re looking to sell an asset when perhaps you’d prefer not to.”
And the influence of agents grew substantially during Kilby’s 13-year tenure.
He said: “When I started, the PFA were trying to become agents for players, but that fell apart. I’ve seen them growing in power, you can’t deal with players directly, you go through agents who expect a sum of money from you, not their clients.
“I always thought agents got money off their clients, but it comes off the club in the deal. That’s strengthened them being in the equation.
“They make more money moving players around than a player does staying where he is, even though perhaps it’s in the player’s best career prospects to stay where he is.
“Unfortunately agents make more money by moving guys around.”