Cobh Ramblers expect to benefit from Burnley’s expansion

ALK capital adamant their financial approached is ‘reasonable and sustainable’

Cobh Ramblers’ two year deal with Burnley provides immediate benefit for Cobh’s academy and soon to be established women’s side, as they will play their new partners in pre-season tournaments. File photograph: Tommy Dickson/Inpho

Cobh Ramblers’ two year deal with Burnley provides immediate benefit for Cobh’s academy and soon to be established women’s side, as they will play their new partners in pre-season tournaments. File photograph: Tommy Dickson/Inpho

 

Cobh Ramblers expect to benefit from Burnley’s expansion under their new American owners.

The Premier League outfit has struck “strategic partnerships” with four clubs across the UK and Ireland to expand its scouting network. Portadown, Ayr United and Welsh side Llandudno have entered a similar arrangement in the wake of Velocity sports partners, the sports investment arm of ALK capital, acquiring an 84 per cent stake in Burnley last December.

Ramblers have a relationship with Burnley dating back to 1921, when the Cork club adopted the English league champion’s claret and blue colours, but this formal two year deal provides immediate benefit for Cobh’s academy and soon to be established women’s side, as they will play their new partners in pre-season tournaments.

Along with a focus on sending over young talent, Cobh expects to benefit from Burnley’s coaching and commercial expertise.

“What is very important is the way Burnley have negotiated with us,” said Cobh chairman Bill O’Leary. “They have treated us with great respect. We feel they are the right sized club [to partner with] and they have certainly performed way beyond what you would expect from the region.

“It is not a very big region in population terms but they are now a well established Premier League club, so there is learnings there for us in terms of how we could do something similar.

“Aligning ourselves with a Premier League club brings real opportunity and attractiveness in us bringing underage players through our academy, so that is a big feature,” O’Leary added. “As is the ability of players to go both ways as the seasons are complimentary.”

Cobh, who received a fee of £47,000 from Nottingham Forest for a 19 year-old Roy Keane in 1990, do expect compensation when a player they send to Burnley is sold to another club, but the terms of this arrangement have to be “fully detailed out.”

“It is timely now,” said O’Leary. “It makes a lot of sense for us geopolitically and for many other reasons.

“I think to some extent we are breaking new ground here. Ok, there are one or two other relationships [like Sligo Rovers and Everton] but we are another piece of that jigsaw. We want this relationship to be really demonstrable, tangible and of a mutual benefit.

“This relationship will only be as good as the amount of work we put into it but it has got to be underpinned by a really positive, transparent intent and I think that is there now, for sure.”

At present there is no financial aspect to the partnership with Cobh hoping it will offer a way around restrictions put on Irish teenagers travelling to England post-Brexit.

“This is very much the first step in our plans to expand the football network of Burnley, build the relevance of our club beyond the north west of England and ensure that Burnley’s academy continues to be a high-performance hotbed for future first team players and international footballers,” said Burnley chairman Alan Pace.

Pace is also ALK capital’s managing partner, having begun his financial career Lehman Brothers where he became managing director before Dave Checketts, the former New York Knicks president and owner of Real Salt Lake, hired him as chief executive of the Major League Soccer club.

In 2008 Pace, a southern California native whose father hails from the north of England, returned to the financial world to guide Citi bank out of the global financial crisis, eventually serving as managing director before leaving to form ALK in 2019.

Pace immediately added Checketts, who almost convinced Michael Jordan to sign for the Knicks in 1998, to the Burnley board along with Antonio Davila, a senior academic at the business school in Barcelona where Pace gained a master’s degree in international finance.

The Clarets, who are about to enter their sixth straight season in the Premier League, have a reduced Irish connection in recent times although Robbie Brady, Jimmy Dunne and Kevin Long remain a part of Sean Dyche’s first team squad.

None of them featured in last night’s 3-0 defeat to Liverpool at Turf Moor, although Jimmy Dunne was on the bench, with Brady and Long expected to miss next month’s Republic of Ireland friendlies against Andorra and Hungary due to injury.

The number of Irish players at the club should increase in the next two years but, as Pace makes abundantly clear, ties with lower league teams are just one element of the American’s plans for the club he purchased by leveraging Burnley’s assets in a similar fashion to how the Glazer family took over Manchester United before loading the club with £525 million in debt.

ALK capital remain adamant that their financial approached is “reasonable and sustainable.” Cobh Ramblers would certainly hope so.

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