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Burnley CEO Neil Hart’s message to fans as transfer window, takeover and ‘huge losses’ discussed

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CEO Neil Hart admits Burnley’s losses are running into tens of millions of pounds as a result of the coronavirus crisis but says the club remains in good financial shape and are eyeing an active 2021 transfer window.

The Turf chief opened up on a range of topics in an interview with the club website and discussed the Clarets season ticket policy and the Premier League Pay Per View decision.

Hart touched on the takeover talk surrounding Burnley and assessed the transfer window which saw Sean Dyche bring in only midfielder Dale Stephens and Will Norris despite talking about strengthening further.

He revealed the club has been hit by significant losses as a result of lost matchday revenue, sponsorship and a TV rebate.

Here’s the key points from the interview which you can watch on Burnley’s website.

On the club finances

“The board and my predecessors and Sean have always done a fabulous job in terms of protecting the club’s finances and the club has always been run very prudently and very responsibly from a finance point of view. That continues and it is more important now than ever.

“There is no doubt this club is experiencing huge losses running into tens of millions. That is a challenge we are navigating our way through.

“The matchday losses are significant, we have had sponsorship losses as well, we have had a rebate to deal with around TV money so that has pulled into tens of millions so that is a huge challenge for us. But we are mindful it is not just us, it is every club up and down the country.

“But we remain solution focused and positive and we are trying to navigate our way through that.”

On the takeover talk

“What I can say is it is no secret that the chairman and the club have been looking for external investment.

“That is an ongoing process and as and when we are able to communicate to supporters and stakeholders that that process has come to a conclusion we will do that.”

On the window

“I am a very positive person and I like to have a positive outlook on things and my assessment is all is not lost.

“Our priority this window was to retain some of our main assets and we have done that.

“We have exercised an extension on Ben Mee, Ashley Westwood has signed a new deal, we have retained James Tarkowski’s services which I think is critical for the team, Dwight McNeil has now signed a new deal and there is a plan in place to look at other players where deals are coming to an end and that process is ongoing.

“I think it is a huge plus. I think if you had said to any Burnley fan, or me, or the chairman that we are going to finish the window and retain the services of all those players we would have all taken that. That is as good as bringing in any new players in my view.

“Let’s not forget we have a fantastic manager who has always delivered for us, we have a great group of players who have always delivered for us and we have every faith in them continuing to do that.

“I would envisage we would have a relatively active January and next summer window.”

On the Pay Per View decision

“I won’t dress it up, it was the best of a bad option list

“We felt it was important to put the games on to the broadcast networks.

“The price was set by the broadcasters, it was either that option or we don’t have the games broadcast. And we felt that was the better option.

“And let me stress Burnley fans have a choice, you can choose to pay for it or you can choose not to. As a Burnley fan would I pay for it? Yes I probably would. I would pay to watch my team but it is down to the individuals to choose that and at least you have the option.

“I will make a point that the £14.95, although there is initial outrage of that or at least some criticism, is cheaper than buying a ticket and as a family group you can buy the Pay Per View package and watch the game.

“I would like to think linked to that we have come out with a very fair and robust plan around season ticket refunds and options and preserving your seat for future seasons. I think we have been fair and quite open with fans about our policy.

“It (Pay Per View) was presented to the clubs by the Premier League off the back of discussions with broadcasters and we felt it was the best option presented to us. It gives people a choice and you can choose to do it or not to do it and either way is okay.”

On season tickets

“I like to think we have been fair with supporters with regards to our policy around season tickets and refunds. For me, I want to do the right thing by fans, that is the first thing on my mind.

“We reached out to our supporters groups to have that discussion with them and we came up with a strategy which sees us being able to refund supporters. They can retain their seat for 2021-22, which I think is really good, they can leave their money on account, they can use that for future spend, they can stop their direct debit mid point and we will look at picking that up at a later date.

“Those that retain the product and keep the money on account will be entered into a ballot, which lets be frank and honest will be over subscribed, and the ballot process will allow supporters to access the ground, hopefully this season, on a reduced occupancy.

“We have had to put a line in the sand. I am emphatic to everybody and I know it doesn’t suit everybody but I like to think we have been fair and clear in the way we have set that out.

“It is trying to find a balance and what we are hearing already is that the majority of supporters will happily leave their money on account and use that for future spend and that is their decision. Those supporters will end up in the ballot for future games, certainly games for this season.

“I would like to think what we have done is more than fair.”

On getting fans back

“There is a huge desire to get fans back into stadiums, they are the lifeblood of any football club and they are a huge part of Burnley Football Club. We miss them dearly.

“We are working very hard behind the scenes. We had an initial date of October 1 which was pushed back by Government so that was disappointing for us but we have had to react and respond to that in a positive way.

“Discussions are ongoing with the 20 Premier League clubs, the Premier League, the DCMS and into Whitehall around what do we need to do to get supporters back in grounds and can we do that sooner rather than later.

“Pressure is being applied in an appropriate way. It is not an easy task for us but rest assured we are doing everything we can to get supporters back into grounds and we are hoping we can do that sooner rather than later, albeit with a reduced occupancy level but that is a start.”




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