‘We wouldn’t be frightened because we’ve chosen good managers before’: Burnley prepared for eventual departure of ‘brilliant’ boss Sean Dyche after years of overachieving in the Premier League
- The Burnley boss will next month mark his eighth anniversary at Turf Moor
- His future had been in doubt over a lack of money for squad strengthening
- The 49-year-old has been linked with a number of other top flight clubs
‘When Burnley do well crime rates here drop,’ says Brendan Flood. ‘Visits to GPs drop,’ he adds. ‘That’s the impact it can have.’ The Burnley director is summing up what the club means to the town. ‘A couple of wins give people a lot of hope. That’s our role – to give the people something.’
English football’s great overachievers have done just that. Since 2016’s promotion from the Championship they have dodged relegation with room to spare. Finishes of 16th, seventh, 15th and last season’s 10th in the richest league in the world are an incredible feat from a club whose budget is dwarfed by most of their rivals.
‘When Owen Coyle was manager here he said that you could fit the population of Burnley, 75,000, into Old Trafford,’ local lad Flood adds. ‘That’s the reality of the situation.’
Burnley boss Sean Dyche has been linked with a number of other top flight clubs
The success has arrived on the broad shoulders of Sean Dyche. The manager will next month mark his eighth anniversary at Turf Moor and is universally adored by a grateful townsfolk.
But he also has admirers beyond east Lancashire. This short summer has seen him linked with a number of other top flight clubs. In June, this newspaper revealed that Dyche, 49, was considering leaving Burnley due to a breakdown in his relationship with his chairman over a lack of money for squad strengthening.
It is now September and Dyche remains in post.
But Flood is realistic enough to know that it will not last forever.
Since promotion from the Championship Burnley have dodged relegation with room to spare
‘We all love Sean,’ he says. ‘He’s been brilliant for Burnley. We hope he wants to carry on. I think he’s deserving of interest from elsewhere. That’s the reality of football. If someone outperforms they get interest. If someone came and offered sufficient compensation then it would be Sean’s choice it’s a legal reality.’
Burnley without Dyche would take some getting used to. But Flood, who made his money from retail after starting his career at Barclays Bank, feels the club would respond well.
‘Should it happen it’s acceptable to receive compensation, reinvest and move on,’ he explains. ‘We’ve made good decision on managers on different occasions. We’d hate to have that problem but we wouldn’t be frightened of it because we’ve chosen good managers before.’
Flood, who set up University Campus of Football Business (UCFB), is realistic enough to know that losing talent is something the club will always have to deal with.
‘Nothing changes whether its players or managers,’ he says. ‘The foundations are built on recruiting good people and giving them opportunities to move on at some point. We face that prospect. People come to us and the most successful want to move on because there are bigger clubs than Burnley – we have to be honest with ourselves – but it’s that honesty which keeps us prepared. Most situations are not unique, they have happened before.’
Burnley director Brendan Flood set up the University Campus of Football Business (UCFB)
It is likely that Flood could do without the distraction. Earlier this year, UCFB launched the Global Institute of Sport, which offers Master’s degrees and executive education across the planet. They have partnerships with, and bases at MLS’s New York Red Bulls and Atlanta United, along with Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment, in Toronto, and the Melbourne Cricket Ground. The aim is to provide the next generation of sports directors and leaders. ‘We want to create the Harvard of sport,’ Flood explains. ‘Provide best practice. Like Harvard does in the business world, we want to build the best networks and the cross-fertilisation of ideas that follows.’
UCFB is approaching 3,000 students. They are the largest educator in UK sport and have a strike rate of 60 per cent when it comes to their graduates obtaining roles in the industry.
They hear from Flood as part of their learning, and his is an interesting tale. ‘I was a football nut at a young age,’ he says. ‘I always wanted to be a sports journalist and after I’d started at Barclays I went to night school to learn typing. It was me and 30 women. I was the slowest in the class and it spooked me so that career ended before it started.’
It turned out well. Flood went on to buy a big interest in Burnley and was a co-founder of Orlando City, in America’s MLS. The secrets of his success, which he readily shares with his students, are relatively straightforward.
‘Stay independent-minded,’ he says. ‘Set the standards for everybody but remember that nobody is successful on their own. Create a belief system. Stick to the rules and work as hard as you can. Be consistent. Turn up, work hard and do your best every day.’
When Dyche does eventually depart, it sounds like coming up with a job description for a replacement will not be an issue.