Burnley are third-bottom of the Premier League with no home goals and only a point to show after five games yet two consortiums are vying to take over their ownership.
US interest from the finance group ALK Capital LLC surfaced a couple of weeks ago, but though talks are ongoing a rival package led by the Cheshire-based sports lawyer Chris Farnell and funded by the Egyptian food magnate Mohamed El Kashashy has also been in touch with the club over a proposed £200m takeover.
Farnell has worked with north-west sportsmen such as Cristiano Ronaldo and Roberto Martínez and has a longstanding interest in moving into club ownership. When trying to buy into Charlton Athletic he was briefly subject to an EFL ban for a technical irregularity, though he successfully overturned the sanction on appeal and the league has confirmed he is free to talk to other clubs.
Burnley are traditionally regarded as a well-run club capable of comfortably living within their means on Premier League income and have upgraded their infrastructure impressively during the eight years of success they have enjoyed under Sean Dyche, though there were signs of tension even before Covid-19 hit last season owing to the manager’s frustration at a tightly drawn budget for transfers and player wages.
The chairman, Mike Garlick, has generally operated on the frugal side of sensible, and Dyche has done extremely well to keep the club punching above its weight on a fraction of the budget of north-west rivals, though Burnley do not have the sort of corporate backing that can help cope with empty stadiums and have been looking for outside investment for several months.
Garlick is thought to be keen to stay on in some administrative capacity under new owners, and would prefer any takeover to take place sooner rather than later so that Dyche may get some money to spend in the January window. By then he will probably need it, for though Burnley have been reliably buoyant over the last few seasons this one has started disappointingly.
Figures of £200m relate to Burnley’s value as a Premier League club, and it is that status which has brought about the present bidding war. As a Championship club, or even one in imminent danger of dropping down a division, they would not be nearly as attractive to investors.