New Burnley owner Alan Pace says he intends to adopt a unique approach to running the Premier League club.
Pace’s ALK Capital Investment Group has spent around £170m to take an 84% controlling stake in Burnley.
Unlike most of the Premier League’s overseas owners, American Pace has moved to the UK from New York to take a hands-on role in running the Clarets.
“I don’t think you have ever seen anyone like me,” said the 53-year-old former Wall Street banker.
“You certainly haven’t seen someone like me come in to run a football club and interact and live with the community where they are going to operate.”
Given the measures imposed by the government to combat the coronavirus pandemic, Pace says the only places he actually knows around Burnley are Turf Moor and the local supermarket.
Pace, who is a former president of MLS club Real Salt Lake, will take over as Clarets chairman from Mike Garlick.
However, Garlick – who sold his near 50% stake in the club – and fellow former shareholder John Banaszkiewicz will remain at Turf Moor as directors.
“We do mean it when we say we are as concerned about the long-term viability of this club as if we were a family member,” said Pace.
“We are not going to do stupid stuff. We may say silly things that people take issue with but we are going to act differently and we are going to show that in the things we do.”
Acting differently in the short term means providing manager Sean Dyche with funds to strengthen his squad in the January window.
Pace says it is “important but not essential” Burnley preserve their top-flight status.
“You have one billion people interacting with you in the Premier League,” he said.
“It is like an actor, you want to be on the main stage but it doesn’t mean you cannot make an artsy movie somewhere.”
However, given the uncertainty around 16th-place Burnley remaining in the Premier League and the heavy financial impact the pandemic continues to have on football in this country, it is no surprise Pace admits there have been plenty of occasions over the past few months when he considered abandoning the project.
“Yes, at multiple points we thought it wasn’t going to be for us,” said Pace, who tried and failed to complete a deal for Sheffield United prior to setting his sights on Burnley.
“When we went into lockdown last year we had to think long and hard about what it was going to look like. Project Restart really helped us to understand what was going to be possible.”
If there is unease amongst Burnley fans, it comes through the funding of Pace’s project.
Pace won’t say exactly how much he has borrowed from Michael Dell’s MSD UK Holdings but it is clearly a significant sum, which brings back uncomfortable memories of how the Glazer family funded their purchase of Manchester United, plunging the club into a huge amount of debt.
“I believe there is a way to be financially responsible that is sustainable,” he said.
“The loans for this transaction are absolutely reasonable and in line with what can be supported by this club and will not take away from the club’s ability to operate on a daily basis.”