Video: Retiring Clarets chief Kilby reflects on his many achievements

Share this article

IT is the end of an era at Turf Moor today as chairman Barry Kilby steps down after more than 13 years at the helm.

Kilby is to stand down to concentrate on his battle against cancer, although he will remain as a club director.

FAREWELL: Burnley Football Club chairman Barry Kilby.'Photo Ben Parsons

FAREWELL: Burnley Football Club chairman Barry Kilby.'Photo Ben Parsons

And as he looked back on a remarkable reign that took in two promotions, Ian Wright, Paul Gascoigne and wins over Manchester United, Arsenal, Chelsea, Liverpool, Spurs and Everton, two achievements have left an indelible memory.

Reaching the top table of English football in 2009 – something many people felt may never happen again – obviously is the high-water mark, but Kilby feels steering the club through the dark times after the collapse of ITV Digital back in 2002 was just as important.

He looked back at the best memories of his time in charge, and said: “Wembley has to stand out. We got back into the top flight of English football after 33 years, and some of us thought we’d never see that again.

“But I’m just as proud of becoming an established Championship club, our only relegation has been from the Premier League in my time.

“We had some tough times financially, just holding that together, trying to be the smartest kids on the block and not waste money is as big an achievement as reaching the Premier League.

“Things happen in football, but ITV Digital was a massive thing.

“Those tv deals were a bigger percentage of our turnover than the bigger clubs that get 20-odd thousands gates, and the commercial revenues that come with sitting in a catchment area of a million people.

“The football deal was bigger for us to lose than the others.

“That hit us particularly hard. We had to entrench and dig in and fill the void – and at the same time keep in the division, and we did.

“I really do believe if the ITV Digital hadn’t collapsed. we would have had a strong team the next time to go forward.

“But we had to start then dealing with the loss of £4m worth of expected tv revenue within two weeks.”

When Kilby took over from Frank Teasdale at the turn of the year in late 1998, the club were in danger of slipping back into the basement division, as Stan Ternent looked to fight fires in his first season as boss.

In came the likes of Steve Davis, Lenny Johnrose, Micky Mellon and Paul Cook, and while there were still tough times ahead, Ternent would steer the club into the second tier in 2000, and they have never looked back since.

He said: “It was a time of crisis. We were possibly looking like we might be candidates to go down.

“The bill had started coming through for the two newest stands, and that was a big financial pressure on the club.

“I think it was the right decision to keep Stan on, I always tried to let my managers manage, I always thought these guys have to stand by their decisions and one day you might have to sack them, so make sure it’s their decisions that are up for scrutiny.

“Changes have to be made, and we’ve had to make those decisions, but you don’t make them lightly. Maybe I’d suggest that’s why we have stability at this club.”

While the decision to keep faith with Ternent bore fruit, Kilby admits one of his better decisions was to take a chance on a relative unknown in Owen Coyle in late 2007.

He said: “Owen was a strange one, we’d never have met him, but I was at Gleneagles at half-term and he was just a name, I met him there and it hit me between the eyes what a capable guy he could be.

“That was one of my better decisions and he did a great job for us.

“You can’t dispute that.

“Something that came from left-field and was obscure.

“But the right decisions have been made to keep the club where it is.

“It’s very hard to pick one spectacular decision.

“I’ve been fortunate with all my managers, they all gave it 100% and their best for the club, with some success.”

And Kilby feels the club will continue to move forward under someone else’s stewardship, with the directors set to vote for his successor at a board meeting today.

He said: “I’m proud, the club is such a big thing in the town, something everyone looks up to, and there’s a responsibility there.

“You can’t always take popular decisions, but I think the fans have been very fair to me.

“Hopefully we’ve been open as well and have listened, gone to forums, answered letters, tried to do things correctly.

“But I’m sure the club will still be in good hands, we have a board of directors, all of them are Burnley fans and have lived in the area a long time and are responsible to the area and the people.

“I think the future is set and the decisions made will be made for the right reasons.”