New Burnley chairman Alan Pace has promised to be a different kind of caring owner following his ALK Capital group’s takeover of the Clarets.
The deal was finalised in the early hours of New Year’s Eve, making Burnley the latest foreign-owned club in the Premier League.
In a lengthy online press conference, it was put to Pace that takeovers at other north-west clubs like Blackburn, Wigan, Bolton and Blackpool have all turned sour.
PRESS | Chairman Alan Pace is now speaking to the media, live on Clarets+. 🎙️
— Burnley FC (@BurnleyOfficial) January 5, 2021
He said in response: “I don’t think you’ve ever seen anyone like me and you certainly haven’t seen someone like me come in to run a football club and interact with the community and live in the community.
“We actually do honestly mean it when we say we are concerned about the long-term viability of this club, just as if we were a family member.
“So we’re not going to do stupid stuff. We may say silly things that people take umbrage with but we think we’re going to act differently and we’re going to certainly show that in everything we do.”
Loans were involved in ALK’s purchase, which may set alarm bells ringing among fans, but Pace, the former chief executive of Major League Soccer’s Real Salt Lake, insisted that will not negatively impact the club.
He said: “The loans that we have involved in this transaction are absolutely reasonable and absolutely in line with what can be supported by this club and will not take away from the ability to operate on a daily basis.”
Pace has had a meeting with manager Sean Dyche and has promised to back him in the transfer window.
Dyche made no secret of his frustration at a failure to invest in players under the previous regime, leading to speculation about his future at the club.
Pace cited Dyche’s eight-year stay at the helm as a significant factor in ALK’s interest in Burnley along with the community nature of the club and the opportunity for growth.
“I thought it went well,” said the businessman of his meeting with Dyche. “I’ve been looking forward to it for quite some time.
“We’re very, very big fans. We like consistency, we like longevity and we see what an amazing manager he is and leader.
“He does have some things he’s looking at (in the transfer window), we’re supportive of what he’s looking at.
“I don’t expect Sean to be frustrated. I hope that he will be pleased with the way we can support him and interact with him and that will be our efforts on a constant basis.”
Pace does not want to make rash promises but clearly has ambitions for Burnley beyond a yearly fight against relegation and plans to grow the club’s reach internationally.
— Alan Pace (@AlanPaceBFC) January 5, 2021
He said: “There’s things here we think to reach beyond where we are today.
“I can’t give you a timeframe – who would have thought we were going to go into another lockdown if we were six months ago – so the hard part is not knowing what’s next for us in the short-term.
“But I can tell you, if we’re fortunate enough to still be here in 20 years, the ambitions of this club will be very different.”
Pace splits his time between homes in New York and London but reckons he will spend 80 per cent of it in the north west from now on, although so far coronavirus restrictions have limited his experience of Burnley to “Turf Moor and Tesco”.
He said: “I’m very hands on. I’m not going to be the guy that’s going to rewire the WiFi – although I’ll make sure it gets fixed, because I can’t stand it – but it’ll be very hands on because it’s very different.
— Burnley FC (@BurnleyOfficial) December 31, 2020
“I’ve already experienced a few things that need to change, and you don’t do that unless you’re living in it every day. But that’s not to take away from those that are doing the significant job that they’ve been doing and will continue to do.”
Pace’s hands-on approach includes being very active on Twitter and interacting freely with the club’s fans.
“It’s a bit strange,” he said. “It’s kind of like meeting your future in-laws for the first time. You don’t really know how you’re going to be received.
“Is it going to be a disastrous meal and you’re never going back, or are they going to embrace you and say you’re a long-lost family member?
“They feel that we haven’t done anything wrong yet, it feels a little like a honeymoon period, and we’d like to keep it that way. We’re going to listen so hopefully they see that.”