Chairmen's statement to supporters
AN OPEN LETTER TO BURNLEY FANS
from Burnley FC Co-chairmen John Banaszkiewicz and Mike Garlick
With one of the season highlights upon us, and hopefully a first win against Blackburn in 34 long years, we thought this was a good time to write the first of what will be regular open letters to supporters.
A football club is nothing without its supporters - and to those who have renewed their season tickets in these tough economic times, we say, very simply, thank you.
The season has started well. Third place is not a bad place to be at this time and if we can keep the momentum going, hopefully our die-hard regulars will be joined by others and we will see crowds growing, and revenues rising.
The purpose of this letter is simply to set out our priorities for the club, to pass on information, but also to step up the dialogue with you the fans.
As joint chairmen, we are the current custodians of a great club with a wonderful history, and we are determined to give it a great future too, confident that Burnley Football Club will be here long after all of us have gone.
That sound future depends on sound financial management. Between us, we have invested more money in Burnley Football Club than any other directors since the inception of the club, willingly, because we love the club.
But it is important supporters understand the financial realities we have to deal with, in this era of €100m transfer deals, massive wages for top players and their agents. We have to be realistic about what we can and cannot afford, about how much we can bring into the club on the gate or through sponsorships.
The Board takes the issue of ‘sustainability’ very seriously indeed. We are not at risk of insolvency but, like other clubs, we are under constant pressure to comply with the Financial Fair Play rules to balance our finances.
Burnley has always had to sell to balance the books, and like our predecessors down the years, we have had to make tough choices on selling players we – and you - would rather retain.
There is a perception among a minority of fans that the club has money that it is not spending. That is not the case.
Our accounts are a matter of public record and there is no magic wand when it comes to finding cash for signing new players.
Our losses for the 2012/13 season will be approaching £8m, but with some strong financial management we hope to pull this back in 2013/14. Any profits from player sales will be reinvested in the running of the club and its long term future.
It is a similar approach that delivered the successful buy-back of Turf Moor and Gawthorpe, which brings the grounds firmly back in the hands of Burnley Football Club. It’s our Turf and part of our town!
That role in the community is another priority area for us, and we wish to develop further the work we do with schools, businesses and colleges in the area.
We will continue to invest in scouting and recruitment, focus on the youth Academy and develop more home grown players, essential for long term success of the club. The reality spelled out by FA chairman Greg Dyke, noting the low percentage of English players in the Premier League, creates an opportunity for clubs like Burnley in the domestic market. We will aim to improve our conversion rate and in coming years get more of the 110 players currently in our U9-U16 groups and Academy into the first squad team.
The board of directors takes its job at this club very seriously. But we recognise that we need to hear from a broad range of voices as we develop the club.
To this end, we are in the process of creating an advisory board to sit alongside our main board. The advisory board will include the team manager, Burnley bondholders and others who can make a positive contribution to the club and develop ideas for the future. To secure that future we are prepared to consider all the options. We are always interested in talking to potential new investors and partners in this great club who can add value and complement what we are trying to achieve.
This letter is intended to be just the start of better communication about our future plans and this will continue.
Our strategy will be communicated to you wherever possible and will show how we evaluate our strengths and weaknesses.
We can’t always promise that everything we do is going to be in the public domain – we have confidentiality issues to consider and obviously we do have competitors – but we want to encourage openness and transparency as part of our future strategy, and we welcome your feedback.
In closing, our thanks for your continued support and as Burnley fans for getting behind the team and the manager in the coming year and building a buzz as we look to challenge for promotion.
We look forward to hearing from you all as the season progresses.
John Banaszkiewicz and Mike Garlick