Bounce-back Burnley look ahead to the Premier

BURNLEY’s tremendous campaign in 2022-23 means the club will surely overcome any hardships from suffering relegation a year earlier, although the accounts for the season just ended will reveal an inevitable drop in revenues. 

The club has just published its financial report for 2021-22 and, despite falling through the trapdoor into the Championship, Burnley made a pre-tax profit of £ 36.1 million, bettered only by Manchester City, on turnover of £ 123.4 million. It is likely the club’s income will be less than £ 100 million and probably closer to £ 80 million in 2022-23.

Now that the EFL’s transfer embargo has been lifted, Burnley will go into the Premier with no small amount of optimism; they were worthy and impressive winners of the Championship, losing only three games and running-up a staggering 101 points. Vincent Kompany, their manager, won the hearts of the fans in his first season and has now signed a contract that takes him to 2028. This may seem a bold gesture on the part of the club, but the way Burnley played suggests they could acclimatise quite well in 2023-24 and Kompany is, after all, a sought-after asset. 

Burnley’s last Premier League season underlines the importance of TV and media income to the clubs. Burnley’s £ 123 million (an increase of 7.2%) included £ 105 million from broadcasting, representing 89% of overall revenues. Matchday earnings totalled £ 7 million, a relatively small figure compared to many Premier members but one of the highest recorded by the club, while commercial activity raised £ 11.5 million, better than 2020-21 but some way below pre-pandemic figures.

Burnley were relegated with a wage bill of £ 91.9 million, slightly lower than 2020-21 but still 75% of income, a ratio that was at the higher end of the Premier League. Two seasons earlier, the club’s wages totalled £ 100 million. Burnley’s player wages remained among the lowest in the division in 2021-22.

A number of players were signed in 2021-22, notably Maxwel Cornet (Lyon £12.8 million), Wout Weghorst (Wolfsburg £ 12 million) and Nathan Collins (Stoke City £ 12 million), but with relegation, Collins was sold to Wolves for £ 20 million, Dwight McNeil moved to Everton for £ 20 million and Cornet went to West Ham for £ 17.5 million. Burnley made a profit of £ 54.7 million on player sales, only marginally less than the four previous seasons combined.

Burnley’s net debt increased from £ 14.8 million to £ 53.2 million. They were taken over in 2020 via a leveraged buyout, which loaded £ 65 million of debt onto the club. This method, while undoubtedly convenient for investors, is an unpopular strategy with supporters. Some of the club’s debt had to be repaid after relegation, hence the club offloaded some players to bring down costs.

Kompany was hired in June 2022, two months after the iconic Sean Dyche was sacked. In the summer, Burnley signed no less than nine players from Belgium clubs including Anderlecht, Standard Liege, Cercle Brugge, Antwerp, Union Saint-Gilloise, Charleroi and Westerlo. In total, around 25 players joined Kompany’s revolution. The new-look side drew a few games at the start of the season, but then settled down to show their pedigree, sending a signal to their rivals with a 5-1 win at Wigan. At Turf Moor, Burnley won 16 of their 23 games and lost once in their penultimate home fixture against QPR. 

Kompany’s Burnley, who could be an attractive away team, will face their real challenge next season. Can they adjust to life in the Premier and avoid the relegation battle that often comes after promotion? Does the former Belgium international have what it takes to manage successfully in the top flight? He has been smart enough to resist any would-be employer, perhaps aware that the step-up can be a steep one. Last time around, they had a couple of good years before struggling and even tasted European football. With that experience in mind, will Burnley, with their modest financial profile, be adequately resourced for the return to the Premier?

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