English Premiership

Burnley exit EPL in good health

2010-04-29 19:23
Burnley (team logo)

London - Burnley's Premier League adventure proved to be fleeting but, unlike the other two clubs that tumbled through the relegation trapdoor, they do not need to sell off the family silver to survive.

In pure football terms there was little to choose between Burnley, Hull City and Portsmouth this season. Too many goals conceded, not enough scored, the upheaval of a change of coach and fickle fortune all combined to send the three clubs down.

Off the field, however, small-town club Burnley sensibly kept the cheque book locked away, resisting the kind of spending sprees that have left Portsmouth and Hull with crippling debts and cloudy futures as they quit the top flight.

While Burnley took their Premier League "prize money" of around £35m and can look forward to life in the Championship debt-free and with every chance of a promotion challenge, Hull's and Portsmouth's priorities are mere survival.

On Thursday, Hull denied media reports that administration was looming but, with creditors circling to recover debts totalling £30m, they find themselves in a perilous position.

"The main focus at this point in time is on the remaining two fixtures of the current season in order to try and secure an 18th-place finish, and to continue business and operations as normal," a Hull statement said.

"The consequences of relegation have a material impact on the revenues of the football club and, as has been widely reported, the Board have been meeting to discuss the management of the transition from the Premier League to the Championship.

"This should not be surprising and there are no plans or intentions for Hull to enter into any form of insolvency."

Even with Premier League money flowing in for the past two seasons, Hull have got themselves into difficulties and owner Russell Bartlett's immediate goal is to halve the club's £30m operating costs by selling the high earners.

"We will need to reduce our outgoings to a level that is sustainable over the longer term," he said.

Portsmouth's financial woes are even more acute after they fell into administration in February.

Administrator Andrew Andronikou confirmed last week that the club have debts of nearly £120m and not even the prospect of an FA Cup final against Chelsea can deflect attention from the vultures hovering above.

Both Portsmouth and Hull gambled on staying in the top flight, signing up players on big salaries and long contracts.

Burnley, on the other hand, invested very little in the squad, sticking largely to the side that gained promotion.

While that pragmatic approach, one also adopted by yo-yo club West Bromwich Albion, may not have been to the liking of some fans who watched their side's great start fizzle out, it means they go down financially secure and the lucrative Premier League parachute payments (£16m in the first season) can be spent on players rather than on staying afloat.

"We are not frightened about going down and I want to keep as strong a squad as possible to allow us to challenge again next year," Burnley chairman Barry Kilby said.

"In normal terms, the Premier League would have brought us £50m (turnover) next season. The Championship will probably be about 24 million, so it's about half.

"But one of the things we have planned for is to be debt-free. We are going down with one of the biggest budgets in the Championship and that's something I haven't been able to say in the past about Burnley."

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