Burnley 'Pride of Lancashire!'
Burnley are now of course a Premier League club again after a four year absence following one staggering season that was simply unbelievable.
It is remarkable though how all our local rivals are also struggling compared to the situation they were in at the end of 2010-2011 season.
There is no doubt now that Burnley have earned the title 'Pride of Lancashire'
In Burnley's first season back in the Championship with expectations high we could still only manage a 8th place finish and we could never improve upon that in subsequent seasons until of course this season four years later.
Elsewhere, Preston too were struggling and by the end of the 2010-2011 season they were demoted to League One after finishing in 22nd spot. They have not recovered since then although at least they reached the play-offs this season only to be knocked out by Rotherham at the semi-final stage. Burnley though are now two leagues above them which must stick in the Preston fans throats!
What was happening in the Premier League though by the end of 2010-2011? Blackpool of course had replaced the Clarets at the start of the season in the top flight but they too could only muster one season in the Premier League and were relegated in 19th spot. By the end of this season though they were struggling even more and only just escaped a further drop to League One by the skin of their teeth after finishing in 20th place just two points away from the relegation zone!
There were of course bitter resentment by Clarets fans at the end of 2010-11 that our East Lancashire rivals, Blackburn Rovers still remained a Premier League club after finishing in 15th spot but of course that would soon change with Rovers finally becoming a Championship club following their relegation at the end of the 2011-12 season. They of course remain a second tier club with Burnley finally achieving the bragging rights following our first win over them in 35 years after the 2-1 win at Ewood Park back in March. It must be even more difficult though for Blackburn fans to suffer the fact that we have finally replaced them as the 'Pride of Lancashire` and have at long last taken the Premier League mantle off them! We have also done it without the Jack Walker millions; in fact we have now done it twice!!
Elsewhere of course, at the end of 2010-2011, we also had to endure the fact that Owen Coyle`s Bolton had also survived another season in the top flight after finishing in 14th spot. The writing was on the wall though for Coyle and he would soon suffer the well-deserved fate of relegation taking his Bolton side down by the end of the 2011-12 season. By October 2012 both club and fans had had enough of Owen Coyle and he duly had his contract terminated. Bolton have not exactly improved significantly since then and last season finished in a mediocre 14th spot. Owen Coyle though would make a relatively short-lived comeback in the Championship after becoming Latics gaffer in June 2013 following the departure of Roberto Martinez to Everton. Wigan were still a Premier League club at the end of the 2010-2011 season after finishing in 16th spot but were eventually relegated at the end of 2012-2013. Coyle had now been in charge of two clubs to suffer the drop to the Championship under his management and by December 2013, he would suffer his second sacking.
Many fancied Wigan to make an immediate return this season and to be fair they did reach the play-offs under their new gaffer Uwe Rosler rubbing further salt into Coyle`s wounds. However it was QPR who progressed to the play-offs final following a 2-1 aggregate win over the Latics.
Burnley achieved promotion this season just in time. The parachute money had virtually run out and earlier in the season we posted a £8 million loss. The club had no real money to invest in the squad but now stand to gain £100 million following a return to the top flight! We still won`t be splashing the cash willy nilly but hopefully we have learnt a few lessons from last time and will at least spend a little bit more to try and keep competitive. Our first task next season is simply survival before hopefully doing a West Brom to become an established top flight club! I was very critical as most posters know on the club`s spending policy at the start of last season but have been eating humble pie for a long time now. In some ways we were lucky to find a gem of a manager in Sean Dyche and of course we managed to keep a tight knit squad together for most of the season without significant injuries and suspensions until the final stages of the campaign when a points` cushion had already been built up. Could we ever repeat such a season again under similar circumstances? Probably not and we will never know what would have happened in the intervening seasons had we invested more in players but that`s history now and I will certainly accept we are now much better placed financially than most of our local rivals. Bolton posted a £50.7 million loss this year whilst Blackburn suffered a £36.5 million annual pre-tax loss following their relegation from the top flight! Their accounts revealed a £27.3m drop in turnover and a 136.1% wages-to-turnover ratio for the year ending June 2013. They also showed the club's net debt had risen from £24.5m to £54.5m. Aw what a shame! These clubs really could struggle with the FIFA Fair Play Rule also casting its restrictions but we shall see.
So there we have it, Burnley now top the lot of them with all our local rivals now plying their trade at least one league below us and in the case of Preston, two leagues! We are never going to be able to compete with the likes of the two Manchester and Liverpool clubs which you could loosely describe as Lancastrian clubs but we are not doing too badly are we? What a reverse in four short years. The Clarets can now wear the badge 'Burnley, Pride of Lancashire` with well-deserved dignity!