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Brendan Flood reveals secrets behind Burnley's success

by 12/10/2017 18:21:00 0 comments 1 Views
  • Burnley have gone from strength to strength in the Premier League this year 
  • Co-owner Brendan Flood knows where he wants the club to go and that's higher
  • Flood understands that Burnley aren't fashionable but that doesn't bother him 
  • He also recalls a choppy helicopter ride he had with Ryan Giggs and Gary Neville

By Sam Cunningham for the Daily Mail

Published: 17:31 EDT, 12 October 2017 | Updated: 18:21 EDT, 12 October 2017

Brendan Flood is in a helicopter next to Gary Neville and Ryan Giggs, who have turned white as two sheets.

It is January 2011 and Burnley's co-owner and director Flood, a specialist in property development, has hired a helicopter and picked them up in Neville's back garden to fly to a potential property opportunity in Gleneagles. 

The midwinter weather is blowing a gale and it starts snowing. The trio are bumping up and down, rocking from side to side and they are silent. 'All I could think of as I could see the ground heading closer is, I'm going to die anonymously here,' Flood recalls. 

Burnley co-owner Brendan Flood has guided the Lancashire club to a solid position
Burnley co-owner Brendan Flood has guided the Lancashire club to a solid position

Burnley co-owner Brendan Flood has guided the Lancashire club to a solid position

'Tomorrow's headlines will be "Giggs and Neville die in helicopter crash with some other bloke". We get out of the helicopter and the first thing Gary says is: "We're getting the train home."

But Flood, 55, was not consigned to a footnote of the past and a good thing, too, as he would not have lived through such a glorious moment in Burnley's history. Victory against Everton moved them to sixth in the table, earned by a Jeff Hendrick strike that came at the end of 24 passes — the biggest build-up of any Burnley goal ever in the Premier League.

While Flood has partnered Giggs and Neville to plan the ambitious St Michael's development in Manchester — 'They will undoubtedly be successful at other things because they are winners,' he says — closer to home, he is helping Burnley to an unlikely start to the season maintaining a careful financial ethos at odds to a football world that values Neymar at £198m. 

Flood endured a rather unnerving helicopter ride with Gary Neville (L) and Ryan Giggs (R)
Flood endured a rather unnerving helicopter ride with Gary Neville (L) and Ryan Giggs (R)

Flood endured a rather unnerving helicopter ride with Gary Neville (L) and Ryan Giggs (R)

Burnley are British-owned, British-managed and the core of their squad is British. All the directors are Burnley supporters. Manager Sean Dyche is not a local but has been 'Burnley-fied', evidence of which was graffitied on to the side of a building — his face in the club's claret and blue by 'Burnley's Banksy' — on arrival into town.

'We keep our identity and that's precious to us,' Flood, from Rossendale, says. 'We're not fashionable, but we've got used to that.'

Dyche, 46, is becoming a sought-after manager; one of the rare British successes in the Premier League working to considerable financial constraints. Taking seven points from games away to Chelsea, Tottenham and Everton this season has only increased the attention. 

Burnley's Sean Dyche is becoming one of the most sought-after managers about
Burnley's Sean Dyche is becoming one of the most sought-after managers about

Burnley's Sean Dyche is becoming one of the most sought-after managers about

'Every club wants a manager who is attractive to other clubs as it is a sign of your own success,' Flood says. 'A club and manager need to be aligned in business and personal terms. We feel we've got a strong alignment and that Sean is very settled.

'Many managers underestimate the importance of being a good fit. They inevitably consider a move for more remuneration as it's a short career. Sean is a particularly good fit for Burnley and how easily could he replicate that elsewhere?'

When Burnley reached the Premier League in 2009, the board chose to make the club self-dependent for the foreseeable future and repaid all loans. They have had no debt since then. When they came up again in 2014, they invested the extra revenues in the stadium and a £10m new training ground. Last season the financial priority was strengthening the squad and with the waterfall effect of Premier League money they are able to compete further, but it is nothing compared to their rivals.

Flood says that Burnley might not be the most fashionable club but they work hard to achieve
Flood says that Burnley might not be the most fashionable club but they work hard to achieve

Flood says that Burnley might not be the most fashionable club but they work hard to achieve

Tough to maintain their stringent approach when Romelu Lukaku is going to Manchester United for £75m. 'It's an ethos we don't buy into,' Flood says. 'If our board was in charge of Manchester United, we would have to understand what the return is when making an investment on a player. We're always looking for a return from any player investment, typically three times the cost.'

They signed Michael Keane from United for £2m in 2015 and this summer sold the centre-back to Everton for £25m. 'We believe James Tarkowski, who came in at the end of the season, is a great young player. He's got to live up to Keane's reputation but we think he's capable of that.' Tarkowski, 24, has started every game this season and they have lost once.

'Any transfer revenues will be reinvested in new talent. Players can come to Burnley, develop their careers and in time, when they see that they want to be at one of the top six to eight clubs, that's when we'd have to be honest with the player about what we're able to afford for their wages.'

Defender James Tarkowski has impressed since stepping to replace Michael Keane
Defender James Tarkowski has impressed since stepping to replace Michael Keane

Defender James Tarkowski has impressed since stepping to replace Michael Keane

There is something beautifully honest in Burnley's approach that is working in a league of flamboyance and excess. 'In football, bad times are always just around the corner,' Flood adds. 'We always look at the cashflow five years hence to keep our feet on the ground . But we believe in our ability to bounce back.

'If you look at the demographic of our fans, they either attended the Leyton Orient game in 1987 when we nearly went out of the Football League, or they're the son or daughter of the dad who was at the match so they've heard the stories of it. 

'They have the sense of recent historic failure, it acts as a brake on any overexcitement we allow ourselves to experience. You just have to watch Premier League Years on Sky Sports to see Oldham and Swindon and Portsmouth in the Premier League to understand that success is only temporary.'

Turf Moor is another reminder of Burnley's roots and is regarded as an old-fashioned ground
Turf Moor is another reminder of Burnley's roots and is regarded as an old-fashioned ground

Turf Moor is another reminder of Burnley's roots and is regarded as an old-fashioned ground

Flood's fascination with football business led him to set up the world's first university of football. Burnley hosted the Queen for lunch at Turf Moor when she agreed, as part of her Diamond Jubilee, to open the University College of Football Business. It has since expanded to Wembley and the Etihad Stadium. Away from match-days the corporate boxes transform into classrooms for thousands of students.

'We are the market leader in sports programmes,' Flood says. 'In September we'll have around 2000 students across both campuses. Because of our integral connection to the game we can speak from a place of genuine knowledge of how things work.'

Would Flood tell the students that Lukaku is worth the investment? 'If the aggregate value of the investment return adds up to that, then yes, but I think the components would be: What does he do to the players around him? How many games could he win for you in his contract term on his own? What does he bring for the sponsors and what's his recoverable value? You can do the maths and prove that somebody could be worth that much. Should a player be as worth as much as an entire football club?

The Burnley co-owner poses the question of whether Romelu Lukaku is really worth his price
The Burnley co-owner poses the question of whether Romelu Lukaku is really worth his price

The Burnley co-owner poses the question of whether Romelu Lukaku is really worth his price

'I'm not sure Manchester United would do the five-year cashflow forecast and assume they might be relegated. They might assume they don't get back in the Champions League in four years.

'The scarcity of winners in the game is where that value becomes justified. What is any player worth? If he can win a match and deliver consistently three points for a club, then that's worth money to you. That's a calculation you can predict. We wouldn't pay fees beyond £15m for any player unless he's an outstanding talent and a winner.'

On that basis, would he have paid more than £15m for business partners Giggs or Neville, then? 'Ryan on his day, maybe,' he says, laughing. Not Neville? 'Definitely not Gary — he's a full-back!'

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