New American owner sees global opportunities for Burnley

FILE PHOTO: Soccer Football - Premier League - Burnley v Crystal Palace - Turf Moor, Burnley, Britain - November 23, 2020 General view of a corner flag before the match Pool via REUTERS/Michael Regan

BURNLEY, England (Reuters) - Burnley's new American chairman Alan Pace wants to see the Lancashire club capitalise more on the Premier League's global commercial reach and is also exploring the possibility of a partnership with a foreign club.

Pace's ALK Capital group took over Burnley last week from local businessman Mike Garlick, who had guided the club into the Premier League where, under manager Sean Dyche, they are now in their fifth straight season.

While Burnley, with a population of 88,000, is the smallest town represented in the English top flight, Pace believes he can combine their traditional focus on local support and community projects with an innovative look at international opportunities.

"Every club in the Premier League can benefit from the international scope of this league – how you do that is the most important part," Pace told an online news conference on Tuesday.

Burnley, currently 16th in the league, have not struck the kind of global sponsorship deals and commercial partnerships typical of many Premier League clubs nor does their fan-base spread much further than expat supporters of the club.

Pace said it was understandable that the club, under its previous ownership of local businessmen, had not been able to develop a broader, global reach so far.

"It is hard for people to realise that vision when you are spending most of your time just staying (in the Premier League). When you are just staying afloat in an ocean, you don’t get time to see what is around you and what you can do," he said.

But Pace, who previously was president of Major League Soccer club Real Salt Lake, says the strategy has to be to find a way to get international fans attracted to Burnley.

"You have got to give them a reason to connect with things that are happening here – that may be a player, that may be a style of play, maybe a manager or the atmosphere (in the stadium)," he said.

"There are a number of different things that can absolutely have that level of impact, it is about how do you not artificially create it but make it genuine, real and long-lasting."


Pace, who is moving to Lancashire and unlike many U.S owners of English clubs will take charge of the day-to-day running of Burnley, is also looking at linking up with an overseas club to help with player development.

"If I was a player, I’d want first team minutes, if I can’t get that at my club but my club can get me opportunities at other clubs, then I would see that as an opportunity for me to develop as a player," he said.

"We see that as important but for other clubs it may be branding, other commercial opportunities. For us it's probably more on the player development side – those relationships could be anything from ownership through to strategic relationships."

While the American said that he will seek to learn from innovative approaches in the world of sports business, he is also keen to make sure he has the practical local advice of the two major shareholders ALK purchased the club from.

Former chairmen Mike Garlick and John Banaszkiewicz are remaining on Burnley's board and Pace says they will help him avoid costly mistakes.

"We thought that coming in as new members of this family, taking on all of that without any semblance of advice or experience, would be very silly on our part," he said.

"Having two key individuals that have been involved for quite some time and have got the building blocks in place, was really important.

"They will help us on the board, give us their wisdom, how they have dealt with things - that is super-important and it's also so we don't make silly mistakes that could be avoided by just listening," he said.

(Reporting by Simon Evans; Editing by Ken Ferris)

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