Potential Burnley takeover - boss Sean Dyche on the prospect of having a bigger transfer war chest

Burnley boss Sean Dyche has built his success on teams which have been greater than the sum of their parts.
Mike Garlick and Sean DycheMike Garlick and Sean Dyche
Mike Garlick and Sean Dyche

While everything he has achieved in eight years at the helm has been done without a budget, with prudent decisions, he has always admitted he would love to spend every penny if there were millions available.

He laughed in 2016, after stick from Middlesbrough fans after drawing attention to their spending, compared to Burnley’s: “I’d love it if you lot were saying ‘you’ve spent a hundred million Sean’ – get in there! Happy times.

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”I would too, because I’m quite happy to handle my responsibility, whether I’ve got money or not.”

He could potentially be about to find out what it is like to have a vastly-increased transfer war chest, albeit neither consortiums interested in the club would be naive enough to put a figure on any available funds.

Should Dyche get his wish, and the club, under new ownership, are able to provide the stretch in finances he has craved, he feels it would be wise to continue to build, to aim for evolution, rather than revolution: "Most clubs are about that, Chelsea are probably the ones who have had a real tickle in the market over the last few months, but that's just a different version of evolution, a higher thinking financial model.

"I don't think many managers think they can just change everything overnight, most know it's a gradual thing - certainly Jurgen Klopp came in and spoke very openly about that, the building, how long it would take - a few quid spent along the way, but I understand the train of thought.

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"Top managers are saying it takes time to get what we want, so I don't think many clubs literally go for revolution and it suddenly just works.

"Sometimes it has, not very often, and not sustainable.

"Most are building, just at a completely different financial level to us.“

And, speaking hypothetically, he would be mindful not to fix what isn’t broken at the club, in terms of the ethos and culture developed since his arrival in 2012: "If I go back to when the club was two and a half years out of the Premier League, when I came, the money had well and truly gone, we were gutting everything, and I've seen it then, and I've seen it now.

"So I do understand the financial timeline inbetween, even noting the enormous amounts of money that have come into the club, I understand the idea of protecting the club.

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"And, of course, I think I've played my part in doing that, trying to make good decisions.

"My suggestion has only been the last couple of years, is after so many years of relative successes, I think there comes a time when the stretch, as I call it, is needed on the finance.

"I've never spoken of delusions of grandeur, having massive amounts of money available - it was whether we could add to what we're doing, add a bit more power in the market, to maybe activate a bit quicker - that's one key thing, rather than wait until the last minute, to activate on the targets we've got early, and go and get them done - sometimes we’ve been guilty of putting in very, very low offers that are never going to get done in a million years.

"So, we've got to look at that.

"These are some of the details within it.

"It's never been part of my thinking to get whatever number it is and just start signing players all over the place, because that can sometimes change the good work that's been done by many to create the culture and environment.

"You want to keep improving on that, not detract from that.

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"There's a healthy balance to be found, and it's a tricky balance, enough money to allow you to keep moving forwards, and enough kept in house to make sure the club is still in good shape.

"Facts are facts, the club is in very good shape, that much I do know.”

Burnley’s record transfer fee is the £15m paid for Chris Wood in 2017, and Ben Gibson the following year.

That was doubled by Leeds United on their return to the Premier League this summer, while Sheffield United are starting to become accustomed to paying £20m-plus for players.

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A takeover could see the club be able to match those figures, but Dyche knows full well it remains imperative to bring the right players in at the right price: "It depends on the club. If the club have got that to spend and can do it again if the first signing doesn't work, then I don't see a manager who wouldn't.

”But if the club are like ‘it's £20/£30m and that's it, end of’, then you've got to be very careful about it obviously, because if you do it all on one player, then it has to work.

”Like with foreign players, the club are risk averse, they don't want to spend money on players who might settle here or might not, off the pitch stuff might mean they don't play as well. On the pitch they don't adapt.

”The board has made it clear to me over the years they want money invested wisely on safe bets.

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”There is no such thing as an absolute safe bet, but generally speaking, we can bring players in we've known for years and years and years through their youth coaches and education managers. The more information you find out about them as players and their characters, the more obvious it is that you've got a better chance of safeguarding the club financially.

”Our recruitment has always been 'can we get safe players who can still be very good for us and achieve, but also are not going to have off the pitch things and other variants where things just don't work, and they have to be sold on at a loss?’

”If you look around at what we've done, you'll find we are in a very healthy position in terms of player trading and which players we still have on the pitch now."

The abolition of the maximum wage in 1961 was a factor in Burnley’s ultimate decline, being unable to compete financially with the big city clubs, and, in the modern day, it has become apparent that the club’s board of local businessmen need outside investment to stay at this level, or push on.

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Ultimately, is a takeover the best thing for the club? Dyche mused: “Whatever way it comes about, if the rumours are true or they're not, the current board or a new board or owner or whatever comes, there's got to be thoughts about how this does move forward.

”I think there are thoughts about it and, let's face it, whatever you look at it, modern football, Covid has given it a slightly different twist, we all know that, but generally speaking investment eventually becomes very important.

”The building process and where we’ve got to, first season we did it with nothing, we sold Charlie Austin and brought in three free transfers, got promoted then spent about £9m.

”We've spent a lot on the training ground and a lot went in the bank, which I understood at that time.

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”We then went down, but the club was in amazing shape financially.

”We then went back, up course, so you get the new TV deal and then the club is more stable and has the training ground paid for, so we've built from there.

”So whoever is in control and whatever the model is, at some point football just tells you - you need some form of investment. It comes in the form of money.

”You can do that through younger players and youth systems, but young talent now is very expensive.

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”Look at Josh Brownhill who is doing very, very well here, it involved Nakhi Wells and you're talking eight and a half million. That was a steal. We were sort of nicking players for £1m - £1.5m, like Pope, Gudmundsson, Tarkowski, relative steals, but those days are very very difficult now, no matter what level you are searching.

”It's very very difficult. We've always tried to bring players in who are good enough, who we can mould and mature to what we do and the club that we now are, which is a Premier League club and we have been for a number of seasons."

But there are enough horror stories to make fans dubious of any investors who are not Burnley fans, or from the area.

The fact Burnley’s board are all supporters is something which has been celebrated, and chairman Mike Garlick has spoken of his desire that, if the club was sold, that the necessary due diligence is done, and the motives and ambitions of the new owners are honourable.

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Dyche wouldn’t have any say in such matters, however, as he said: “If the rumours are true, then I can only imagine that the chairman, the major shareholders, John B (Banaszkiewicz) and the board, who are all shareholders to some degree, they know the club like the back of their hand, they are all Burnley people, they’re all got roots in and around Burnley.

”So I’m sure it will be their decision and I can only imagine, if there are these interested parties, that there’s some due diligence going on that would appoint or align the people they think can add to what the club is.

”But it’s down to them. As a manager, I have a fair input on a lot of things at this club, but I don’t have an input on shareholdings and who owns what.

”That’s nothing to do with me. That’s to do with the chairman and the board and they will make the decisions they think are correct, whatever those decisions are, if of course these rumours are true.”