DREAMS do come true – just ask Burnley’s new co-chairmen John Banaszkiewicz and Mike Garlick!
Both met the press this week for the first time since taking over from Barry Kilby, and, for Garlick in particular, heading the board of directors at Turf Moor is an ambition he has haboured for some time.
Garlick, a lifelong Claret whose family have been based in the town since the 1850s, revealed: “I was 21 or 22 and had just left university, and my wife, who was my girlfriend at the time, wrote to Jim’ll Fix It and asked if I could be chairman for the day.
“I never got a reply, so it’s taken me this long. Dreams came true, but not with the help of Jim. With the help of John!”
John B, as he prefers to be known, is another Burnley supporter hailing from Nelson, whose interest in the club was piqued by a book bought by his wife.
He said: “My wife’s very good at getting Christmas presents and she bought be a book on the history of Burnley Football Club from 1913.
“She said it was the most expensive book she ever bought me.”
Now at the helm, the pair have had a busy start to their new roles, with the club record sale of Jay Rodriguez to Southampton, but they hope it will be a case of evolution rather than revolution as they look to continue the good work of their predecessor, who remains as a director.
And they insist after the sale of Rodriguez, that the club have no need to sell any more players – unless deals are in the best interests of the squad.
Garlick said: “You have a constant balancing act of whether you should put the money into the team, should we put it into the ground, do we need to pay off a few loans or whatever?
“The answer is it’s a bit of everything.
“Eddie Howe is aware of his budgets.
“He’s been told what they are, and I think the best thing we can do for a manager is tell him what he’s got to work with.
“But there are certainly no firm plans to let anyone else go.
“Obviously, if offers come in for people and we can see we can get other people in and we think that might strengthen us overall – bringing players in and moving players out – if the net result is we think the team will be stronger, then that could be an option.”
Asked if it was a necessity to sell Rodriguez, or whether it was too good an offer to turn down, Garlick added: “I think it was a bit of both really.
“We did have costs this season that had to be met.
“But we don’t have to sell anyone now.”
And Banaszkiewicz hopes that the club can unearth the new Rodriguez – a player brought through the ranks to great fanfare: “We have to be clever and careful.
“Things like youth development, on the back of getting into the semi-finals of the FA Youth Cup, and looking to the scouts to find the next Jay Rodriguez.
“We’re surrounded by poachers, like Manchester United and Manchester City, so we’ve got to be aggressive and quick.”
Garlick added: “We’ve strengthened the scouting network a lot over the last few years and we’ll continue to do so because we see that as a key area of growth of the business.
“I hate to use the term punching above our weight, but we’re not going to have the budgets of other teams in the Championship, so we’ve got to find ways of looking more effectively and counteracting and having a good youth structure, just like we did in the old days in the 60s and 70s. It’s an absolute must for us.”
The target is to remain competitive at Championship level, however, with a view to pressing a claim for a return to the Premier League.
Banaszkiewicz said: “We need to be ambitious and we need to set targets – that’s what the manager wants and that’s what we want.
“We want a top-six finish. Whether we can get there depends on the belief in the players and the passion and the form.
“We were a bit inconsistent last season, winning more away games than home games.
“We know where the deficits are, and we’re going to try to correct those.”
Garlick hopes the squad can push for promotion from a position of strength.
He said: “When we won promotion three years ago we’d already been in the Championship for 10 years.
“Going forward, we are not in a hurry.
“We want to build something that’s solid and get another shot at it.”