'Blue sky' thinking at Burnley FC is admirable but is anyone there to pose the question 'what happens if....? /Dave Thomas

Mrs T is always saying it. “You’re a miserable so and so. Just like your father.”

Monday, 18th October 2021, 12:30 pm
Football expert and writer Dave Thomas talks about the pitfalls that come with so called 'blue sky' thinking

She says I’m 'glass half full'. I beg to differ. It is only because I am always asking: “But what happens

if…”

It seems a perfectly good question to keep asking when you see something in the news, be it good or bad. It reminds me of a course I once went on when I was a school headteacher. It was a course called ‘Decision Making for Headteachers.’ It took me a few days to decide whether I wanted to go or not.

Anyway, it talked about the perfect staff or the perfect committee. There always has to be this kind of person and that kind of person. There has to be a balance. There needs, for example, to be the ideas person, the 'blue-sky' thinker. But to balance this you need the practical realist, the person who asks “but what happens if…” And that is not necessarily the same as a pessimist.

Here’s an example. There’s a lot of 'blue-sky' thinking going on at Turf Moor, big plans, visions for the future, development and progress both on and off the field. But is there anyone asking, “But what happens if…?"

There are certain facts. Mike Garlick sold the club to the Americans. They took out loans to facilitate the purchase and then used the club’s own money to pay off some of the debt. But not all of it. They bought new players, they certainly need more new players to replace an ageing squad, they spent money on the ground externally and internally, and now they have offered to buy any shares from the smaller shareholders.

You get half the money in cash, but half stays with the club as credit for you to use for the shop or tickets. That’s grand if you have just one or two shares, but let’s say you have 400 and the price is £1,699 a share; half of that is an awful lot of money to leave in the club account. And all this is what makes me ask “what happens if…”

The loans and debt the club is building up are mounting. What happens if the club income is not enough to repay them over, let’s say, the next five years? What happens if the owners are not here in five years? If they are not here, it means one thing, they have sold up, presumably because they cannot make it pay and things have gone pear-shaped. They are here as investors and want a return.

The safety net provides for Mike Garlick retaking the club. It’s a fair bet he won’t want it back. It’s a fair bet that he won’t want it back because of one reason. There will be big problems to sort out, debts to settle, loans to repay. As long as we are in the Premier League with guaranteed high income it’s all manageable.

But you know what I’m going to ask. “What happens if?”

This isn’t a glass half-full question. This is simply a prudent question. 'Blue sky' thinking is great, it needs to happen, we need the imagination and pizzazz of people who can dream up the ideas.

But someone then needs to be able to see what’s round the first corner, or even the second. Things have

consequences and if there is no-one there to be able to see them, then any group, school, football club, is in trouble.

Just one share in the club would be nice but I don’t have any. I’d get £850 in cash, very nice thankyou and could use the credit at the club to get the next season tickets for the family. Ah, but hang on, that means the club won’t get from me the £800+ cash I would normally pay them. That then is lost income and if, let’s say 200 of us do that, that’s a tidy sum.

Alan Pace is confident that Premier League football is here to stay. I’m not a pessimist, I don’t even think it’s 'glass half-full.' But you know what I’m going to ask.

“Er, what happens if…?"