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The Laws of Diminishing Returns

Media reports yesterday both locally and nationally suggested that Board Members were split over whether to keep Brian Laws as Burnley manager.

The Board met on Monday night to discuss the managerial situation but could not decide an outcome despite four hours of discussion according to an article by Suzanne Geldard in the Lancashire Telegraph yesterday. The paper also alleged that Kilby and one other director were in the pro-Laws camp with Flood and six other directors feeling it was time for a managerial change

The Club were quick to react to the media speculation and reports and issued the following statement on the Official Website:

'Contrary to inaccurate local and national media speculation, the Burnley Football Club board of directors wish to make it clear that Brian Laws' position as first team manager is not under threat.

'Laws met with club chairman Barry Kilby and operational director Brendan Flood to plan next season's player recruitment and budget, with a view to giving the club the best chance of returning to the Premier League.

'Brian Laws has two years remaining on the contract he signed in January 2010.'

The full story behind the speculation will probably never be known but on the principle that there is 'no smoke without fire` the media have continued to chip away coming up with their own take on the situation as everybody tries to fit the bits of the jigsaw puzzle together.

In an article in the Mirror published online late last night it was stated that Chief Executive, Paul Fletcher had joined forces with Operational Director, Brendan Flood to try and get a new manager in place by the start of next season. It would appear though that Barry Kilby had his way in the end despite having a minority of support from the Directors. In what the Mirror describes as a 'stay of execution` Laws has survived and will be given the first ten games of next season to prove he is the right man for the Clarets. I should also add at this point that the article was NOT written by Alan Nixon who seems to have some sort of mole working for him at Turf Moor if his recent accurate articles are anything to go by.

The Daily Telegraph today generally backs up the statements made in the Mirror and also adds that it has been made clear to Laws that the team must make a strong start to the 2010-11 campaign in order for his position to be secure beyond the opening weeks of the season. It would also appear that this compromise was reached after Kilby met with Flood on Wednesday morning.

The paper also suggest that former Hull City manager Phil Brown, Leicester`s Nigel Pearson and the Swansea manager Paulo Sousa all have support among those directors calling for Laws to be sacked and then they sensationally state Mark Hughes, sacked by Manchester City last December, has also been touted as an unlikely successor for Laws.

Suzanne Geldard in another article in the Lancashire Telegraph today does not appear to have backed down on the earlier statements of hers that led to the Club having to issue an official response. She does seem to have toned down some of the speculation though and now says:

"Barry Kilby has stuck to his guns and given his backing to boss Brian Laws, despite facing initial opposition from board members. Clarets chiefs met at Turf Moor on Monday night to discuss the next step following relegation after just one season in the Premier League, with the majority understood to be in favour of starting the search for a new manager straight away. "

In an interesting aside she also let slip that Kilby & Flood looked at 20 candidates to replace Owen Coyle in January before opting for Brian Laws as their preferred choice. That number struck a chord with me, in view of the timescales involved I thought they might only have been looking at a handful of options. Sean O`Driscoll obviously appeared to be in the frame but that was the only other name we seemed to be strongly linked with in the media at the time. Wouldn`t you just like to know who those other candidates were and what might have been?

However getting back to the issue at hand it seems clear now that Laws job is pretty secure at least for the pre-season and the first ten games or so of the new 2010-11 Season in the Championship but I think it is one of the daftest compromises possible and sends out all the wrong messages. The pressure for Laws to win will now be intolerable and the discontent of a vast number of fans will still be bubbling under the surface waiting to break out if the games do not go our way. Also as I said previously what are our new targets going to be thinking with all this uncertainty about the future of the manager? How many players would be happy coming to a club knowing that ten games down the line the manager could be out with a new one coming in?

I just think Barry Kilby has got this wrong and if the speculation is true he should have accepted the democratic vote on the Board and gone with the majority of the Board`s wishes. It is a weak decision in my opinion that serves no purpose other than to prop up a lame duck manager, a manager that now knows most of the Board do not back him and even worse that a sizeable number of fans also do not support him. He will now be under increased pressure to succeed. This really is a Megson waiting to happen and I just hope Brian Laws has the strength of character and technical expertise to prove his critics wrong but it really is both a big ask and a big risk. This wishy-washy compromise could significantly diminish our chances of getting promotion if it all goes tits-up.

Please note the Editorial comments and opinions on this site are the personal views of the Editor and should not be construed in any way to be representative of those of other Clarets organisations of which he belongs e.g. Clarets Trust. This applies to both the front page articles and posts in any of the forums

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The Journalist

Writer: turfmanphil Mail feedback, articles or suggestions

Date:Thursday May 13 2010

Time: 10:56AM

Your Comments

Stupid decision.Just had about enough of so called democracy after this and the cobbling together of the Con-Dem-Nation!
I think that some of the board need to stand up and be counted, so what is kilby saying the board can discuss the running of the club but the final decision is Kilby's (my way or no way) like i said in a previous post laughing stock springs to mind. If Its true about the first ten games whether Laws stays or goes that just proves that Kilby has doubts about the manager.
Curious as to what hard evidence there is that the Board has ever said anything about giving Laws 10 games to prove himself. If there is no hard evidence, then you would seem, TMP, to be judging the Board (in your usual perceptive and robust way) on a position that they haven't actually said they have reached, and which may therefore not be their position! Besides, where Laws finds himself is really no different from where other football managers find themselves: in command until they are no longer in command, and having thier every word picked over by the media's obsession with wheedling into cracks. Also... is Paul Fletcher a director? I thought not. And I suspect TMP that by now neither you nor Suzanne Geldart will be getting invites to Barry's World Cup Barbie!!! Suggestion for a new poll... Whcih will last longer: our Bri as BFC gaffer? Or Nick and David's swoonfest?
Couch Potato
Personally, if Kilby runs the club like it would seem and ignores the wishes of the majority of his own directors I would have my own BBQ and invite everybody but Kilby along. Nobody has any hard evidence about anything, we can but try and piece together a very large jigsaw from what we read in the media and what the club issues. Whether Kilby has said ten games or not is pretty irrelevant because if we are struggling after 10 games next season,the fans will be baying for blood and the manager's position would be untenable. Why even risk it, when its clear Laws does not have the support of a number of the Directors?
Fedup - I am not saying I agree with this ( because I dont) but if this '10 games' is true, could that not be seen as something of a compromise from Barry?
CP do you think everything is rosey at board level because where I was sat they did not seem very united, and whether newspapers are telling the true story or not this is why a true statement from the Club would go a long way to stop all the crap whats being written if thats the case. I'm not a fan of Laws but I really feel sorry for the guy because come the start of the season if we go 1 or 2 goals down what will be the reaction of the fans.
Does it matter who made the compromise? It still is one and as is generally the case with compromises they tend to produce the same effect ie inaction, weakness and ineffectiveness plus unhealthy deep-seated splits that will only build-up in intensity ? We surely need strong leadership here based on democracy not as Fed Up puts it 'my way or no way'
Dale I agree that it could be a compromise for Bazzer but if Kilby is only going to give Laws 10 games he really has no confidence in his manager. Like I say lets have a true statement fron the Club reguarding the manager alot of the fans would understand the position of the board whether they are united or if there is a split.
Whatever your view is on Laws,he clearly is damaged goods so wouldn't it be fairer for all concerned, majority of Board, fans and even Brian himself if he just left by mutual consent and took whatever compensation he was entitled to? Please don't tell me though they are holding onto him so they wont have to fork out the money until he fails? I bloody hope not
Fed up I disagree with that. If Kilby wants him to stay and the rest want him to - Maybe Kilby has said give him 10 games and I am confident he will prove his worth - If he hasnt we will then replace him. As I say, I dont think that is the right thing to do ( and it may not be what has happened) but I think it could be argued that he is confident in Laws ability. He may be confident that within 10 games, Laws will have won round the rest of the board. Bottom Line is that we just dont know - and thats the way it should be. What happens in the board room - should stay there!
TMP - I am sure they arent doing that. The difference between getting rid now or getting rid at Xmas ( say) would be minimal.
OK one thing I can clarify which comes from a reliable source at the Club is that Paul Fletcher was not involved in Monday's Board Meeting. No idea therefore why the Mirror specifically mentions his name but for the moment we can assume that his opinion on the situation is unknown. To answer CPs point, I think as Chief Executive, Paul is still classed as a Director but one that doesn't sit on the Board although I might have that wrong
So if Fletch was not there then it could also be said most of this is pure Nixonism and some are enjoying it far more than they should imo. I also know for a fact that not all the Directors and their partners are buddies with each other and that was pre Laws appointment!! 10 games takes us into early November I guess which would be about right for making the behind the scenes enquiries if any need to be made. So tmp easy question Yes or No do you want Laws out before the start of next season?
Fedup - I don't think that I have said that everything is rosy at Board level. I would guess that they are like most Boards and contain some who are happier than others this week, and others who are happier than some next week... and with everyone engaged in lots of sometimes emotional debate. One thing I can't get my head round in the similarly welcome, and sometimes emotional, debate on this thread is why there seems to be an argument against compromise but for democracy. To paraphrase Abe Lincoln (or whoever it was) you can't please all of the directors all of the time: democracy is compromise. There also seems to be an argument in favour of strong leadership, but against what our strong leader decided. Surely 'strong leadership' involves rather more than bowing before the latest gust of hot air blowing in from the fanzone? Finally, I don't get the call for 'a true statement from the club'? Nice in theory, but how would we know it was true? And even if it was true, wouldn't fans on here and elsewhere choose to disbelieve it? It's all to complicated for me, which is why I tend to go along with the Board; and I think that this Board has a track record of doing a lot more things well than they do badly.
Couch Potato
I have said all along give him until Christmas but the more this goes on, the more I can see a situation where an increasingly volatile set of fans begin to voice their displeasure if results start going tits up at an early stage. Its a question of whether its a risk we can afford to take. I am not sure now
When I was munching on a burger, opposite the club shop, a couple of hours before Spurs KO, minding my own business and trying to stop ketchup getting on my 50th anniversary souvenir programme, some guy came up to me and interrupted my reading. 'Where's all the money gone?' he demanded to know. I attempted to answer, and he shrugged. 'Are you going on?' I asked. 'No,' he replied, and plodded off up Brunshaw Road muttering dark thoughts about 'this lot' while glancing towards the bouncers on the other side of Harry Potts Way. Was this gloomy nihilist, I now wonder, part of the FanPower whom we are being asked to let override our strong leader's decisions? If I see him again, I must remember to ask if he reads the LET.
Couch Potato
At the end of the game, someone near me in Jimmy Mac Lower shared their view that they thought it was wise of Laws not to have come out for the traditional and well-applauded lap of honour. (Or perhaps dishonour this year, in some minds?) I hadn't the heart to tell them that Brian had indeed been where he belonged: on the pitch with the team.
Couch Potato
Is Barry Kilby and Brian Laws doing (or have already done) great harm to our Club, Is that what some on here believe ?? hope not.
Grimsby Claret
CP I wasn't saying you said that everything was rosey I was just asking your view on the matter.
From a source closer to home the vote was more like 5-4 in favor of keeping Laws and there is no amount of games set for him, the board have made the decision, like it or not (and most know I was not in favor of keeping him) but the negativity won't help, we now have to back him and see where it takes us, at least we should give him some time to bring in some of his own players and see what he can do.
Spot on 8C8
I cast my vote with 8c8 and cd.
Couch Potato
Financially ther is little between Laws going now or going at Christmas. There could be a considerable difference in points. Let him have the 800,000 from the last game and get the right manager now. Proven success not a money nsaver.
Really enjoyed reading Couch's posts two-thirds of the way down this thread. The air of dreary malevolence is one that pervades many of us who have been watching the club for a number of years now. What Couch's anecdotes suggest - typically perceptively in my opinion - is that there are lots of people with strong views who never venture inside Turf Moor and plenty who do who haven't got a clue what is happening right in front of them. Sadly the trend now is for managers to be classed as a genius if they win a couple of games on the bounce, and an absolute clown if they suffer back-to-back defeats. Such is the modern way where public adulation and humiliation straddle so closely together. Lose the first two games of the season and see how media and mob rule puts pressure on the Board. Just like it did at Bolton.
In Laws case though it will be a culmination of things not just the fact of maybe losing the first two games which I agree certainly wouldn't help. His appointment was seen as underwhelming or at best indifferent by fans in the first place. He had no Prem experience and had just been sacked by Shef Wed for not being successful. On close analysis his win rate has only ever been about 35% at Championship level. He could only muster 3 wins and one draw in eighteen league games for the Clarets in the Prem and acheived the unwanted tag of having managed two teams in one season both of whom were relegated. Its a drip drip effect of perception versus lack of results. If Laws is still there in August which looks likely, then all you can say is it will be a risky strategy that will effect our chances of promotion if he cant hack it. I will be the first to be shouting from the roof tops if he turns it round but all you can say so far is that is track record is not looking good
Agree that is where we are and I share the view that Laws was an unambitious appointment at the time that became even worse as results nosedived - though the signs were there in the final days of the Coyle regime that we were struggling to make progress. Still think the lack of an available and credible alternative has played a part in the retention of Laws at the helm.
His track record in your opinion is not looking good. In my opinion the hand he was dealt in January was possibly the worst I have ever seen happen. I will not bore you with our away stats and Coyles 12 match winless run because I am sure we were all happy with that downward curve as Coyle was God and the players were trying to attack whilst conceding enough goals to make us look "almost a laughing stock"! Zola was just sacked with a 27% win rate. I didn't want Laws as manager but I am going to judge him on the results between August and December, that I believe is fair. For what its worth I ask the same question to tmp Do you want Laws as Manager come the start of the season. Yes or No? I am happy to go on record as saying Yes I want Laws as Manager come August, if he fails so be it, but I would want to let him have a fair crack at taking us back up.
It might be fair to give him a chance but at the same time it could prove to be detrimental to the club and clearly some Directors also think this. If he is staying then he will be given a chance anyway until and if he goes on a bad run when his days may well be numbered with fanpower dictating proceedings verbally at the games. I am still in the 'give him to Xmas' camp but I say so now with increasing reservations after finding a signiificant number of directors between 4-7 (depending on which report you believe in) clearly don't think Laws is the best man for the job. His track record is not just based on what he did this season for Burnley, its what his track record was like at Shef Wed as well and it is difficult to see at the moment that he will able to improve on his average 35% win rate at Championship level. That win rate if repeated will give us no chance of getting promoted and we will have potentially wasted 16 m of parachute money. It is not a decision that should be taken lightly and certainly not one that should be approved simply on blind faith
I would not say it is blind faith it is a matter of no choice, we are all aware of the pros and cons, better to push on and do all we can to make next season has successful as we can, we all know the score now and we have to hope Kilby and co have got it right, we owe them that much!
And that is, or should be, the bottom line 8claret8. The board have made their decision regardless of how many for/against etc. So unless we all get a vote on the matter, there isn't a lot anyone can do about it. In other words, there's bu**er all we can do about it. Like most on here, he wasn't my choice either, I wanted Mark Hughes and even now, Sousa falls into my favourite column, but I may as well hope that Fergie comes here for what that's worth. It's Laws , so let's smell the coffee :-) and get on with looking forward to who he brings in, and how the team perform next season. I've said it before and I'll say it again, the raw materials are already here for a successful campaign next season, and they've all learnt some harsh lessons in the prem, so laws will have to make a p**s poor job of it to fail . I hope, and think he will do well for the above reason, but if he hasn't by say the end of October, then I'm sure that events will take their own course at that time. Meanwhile, I'll have a chat with Mark Hughes this weekend and tell him to keep October free, just in case.
WC you say there is bugger all we can do about it. Although I don't condone it, didn't the Bolton fans do something about Megson? The strength of feeling amongst a lot of fans is so anti-Laws to the extent that some are trying to agitate to protest outside Turf Moor. This can only get worse if the results in the early part of the season are poor. Like I say is it really worth the risk? A lot of us are still prepared to give Laws a chance but a significant number don't want to and it is that strong feeling bubbling underneath the surface all the time that could really bite us in the bum
Fair play WC not sure I would have gone with Hughes though? Not sure we would want to go down that route tmp didn't the Bolton fans do something about Megson? are we not better than that? I would like to think so? we all know where we stand and dwelling on it is a waste of time, unless we plan to have an uproar against Laws without giving him a chance and I would have no part in that. Que sera sera
Like 8c8 I hope we don't go down that route tmp, although I wouldn't be surprised if it happened. The crucial question here is what percentage of the fans feel that strongly against Laws, against the percentage of us who are willing to give the bloke a go? As in all walks of life, the vociferous minority can sometimes make it look like it's the majority view when the reality is the opposite. I agree with your sentiments that all this palaver will put a lot of pressure on laws, but it'll be a measure of his stature how he deals with it and even more crucial , how the players react to the situation. If they are behind him, as Fletcher and Duff at least have indicated, then they'll perform for him and hopefully the results will follow. We've heard very little of the dressing room since Joey, but I would hope that the decision to keep him reflects an awareness that all is well in that corner. Hughes is the man 8c8, he'd have done what the Italian did no problem. I have this on good authority because 3 of us in the pub agreed on this, against 6, but the landlord was one of the 3, and it was a lock in so we carried the day. Democracy in action or what?
I, like many, wasn't keen on Laws in the first place but having been appointed then we all got behind him at the start. I certainly don't blame him for us going down - Coyle wouldn't have done any better, that's why he left. What bothers me is Laws body language and his team selections however I am willing to give him a try at the start of the season because I believe the mangerial merry-go-round is a very bad routine to get into without 'proof' of incompetence and who is to say we would get anyone better? The problem with the club we love is that many players and managers don't often want to come here for various reasons, usually because we live 'up north'! As for the Board, it's pretty clear from Flood's book that only Kilby and Flood were prepared to put their own money into the club. Kilby was holding the club afloat by himself until he got Flood onto the Board. They both tried to get more 'contributing' directors on board without any luck. As in any business, if you are the one risking your money then you get a lot more say than the ones who don't!
Billy Davies has a much worse record in the Premier League than Brian Laws but his record in the Championship is superb. You cant look at Brian Laws win rate at Sheff Weds when he was so constrained with his spending power
Thanks for the kind words RT. Here's a spanner to throw in the works and maybe take the debate off on a tangent... At the time of the SW/CP game, which saw SW relegated, someone pointed out that CP had gone into administration twice while Wednesday had chosen instead to trade their way out of their financial difficulties, accepting the responsibility of running a team on small budgets rather than running away from their debts. I can already hear the various arguments for and against these two radically different approaches being ground out once more (and why not?). But can only hear very little credit being given to our Bri for getting the Championship win % he did get under those circumstances. QUIZ... Who was manager of Newcastle this year? Does he have the highest ever Championship winning percentage? So what?
Couch Potato
Cotterill was constrained by spending power and look what happened to him. How constrained are we going to be, I mean afterall he was brought to the club because he was the best working with a low budget even if that meant midtable mediocrity and the threat of relegation? Are we going to give him loads of dosh? In which case how do we know he is going to use that wisely, he is only used to working with small budgets? His signings in the Jan window don't exactly fill you full of confidence.Football is a results business, you are taking a high risk with a manager that can only win 35% of his games under any circumstances and I am afraid there are far better managers out there who would do a better job. The Board antis themselves appear to have their own favourites and those either have Prem experience or have been far more successful in the Championship than Laws. A fresh new face now would have united all the different fans factions, removed that simmering tension under the surface and given a lot of the current players a new lease of life. it might even have been fairer on Brian Laws who is now going to be under even more pressure to succeed and his body language on the pitch doesn't exactly fill you fulll of confidence when we go a goal down
CP that is a very fair point regarding Clubs going into admin and the others Clubs who try and repay there debts as for Portsmouth, Leeds, who don't give a toss about companies who they owe money to whether they survive or go under thats why football today is in such a mess.
FedUp - I have just posted on this point in the thread 'Pompey Watch' in the forums on this site. Do you ever go to the forums? They're good. I am curious... how do you think Bfc fans would feel if Bfc went into admin owing Burnley College 41,000, with a goal of paying back maybe a total of just 10,000 over 5 years? Outraged, or not bothered?
Couch Potato
I sincerely hope that the "give him 10 games" idea is fantasy. Also any idea that the club are keeping Laws so as to avoid paying compensation. Surely we are talking about hard nosed businessmen here, they must have had enough time now to have assessed Laws capabilities and have come to the conclusion that he is the man. I disagree, but the board must know things I do not and have no doubts that Laws will be successful. Or is it a case of the Chairman's kiss of death following shortly upon his statement of support, I believe it has happened before. Oh for a return to settled times, hopefully soon.
CP I would be outraged and some fans would feel the same way and that goes for a lot of Pompey fans who are in that position. And as for your first point I do go on other team forums and find it interesting reading what they have to say reguarding there Clubs, and I would not post on there forums because you don't really know whats going on at there Clubs. The point I was making reguarding Portsmouth and Leeds and I was not having a go at there fans it was at the people in charge of the Clubs like Portsmouth what are they in debt 120 million and I don't know what there turnover is and I just think its a disgrace they have put there Club at risk for success. As for Burnley I would hope we never get in to that situation and with Kilby in charge it won't and I think Kilby and the Board have done a great job and not got carried away with the millions we received but there are others on VB think Kilby should have spent a lot more money to keep us in the prem.
Who are they then Fedup ? :-)
Fedup - good to share thoughts... but my Pompey Watch thread is in the forum section of THIS Vital BURNLEY site!
Couch Potato

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