To end 2020, Burnley FC confirmed that Velocity Sports Partners (VSP), the sports investment arm of US management firm ALK Capital, had acquired a majority shareholding (84 per cent) in the club, ushering in a new era for the Lancashire side who aspire to remain in the Premier League for the long-term.
Facing the media for the first time, Burnley’s new owner Alan Pace aspires to create “Britain’s favourite underdog” having purchased the English top flight side for a reported £170 million.
"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."
Naturally, the former Real Salt Lake president was asked to discuss whether his takeover could see the club grow on a global scale, after achieving remarkable success with the MLS side who had consistently finished last place in the league, only to be rebuilt with the help of Pace and won eventually winning the title in 2009, in just two seasons.
"Every club can benefit from the international scope of this league. How you do that is the most important part of the assignment, it think its hard for people to realise that view and that vision when you're spending most of your time focusing on just staying afloat.
"I do think its possible and I think that any clubs thats fortunate enough to play in the Premier League should benefit from it, as thats one of the great things about it. It gives that opportunity to so many clubs, its just about capitalising on it, which isn't as easy as people think."
On what he could offer to the club, Pace discussed his background in data and analytics, explaining that he was interested in using this as part of his recruitment measures at Burnley, alongside what they are already implementing. Burnley manager Sean Dyche has been critical in the past of the clubs recruitment strategies.
Pace said: "They have a very good database and they've done a really good job of putting together what they needed to do to support Sean (Dyche) to this point.
"I think that its hard to build a strong scouting network, when you are going through COVID-19, which we have been going on almost a year. I think they've done a good job from everything that I've seen and I think us working together will provide an opportunity for us to discuss how we can evolve that."
American interest in football across Europe has soared in recent years, not only in the Premier League, which has six clubs owned by American's and a half share in Aston Villa, but last summer's bidding war between a number of American investment firms for the Italian Lega Serie A media company, with a CVC-led organisation eventually winning the investment. Similar interest is reportedly growing in the German Bundesliga. American-owned Amazon has also continued its march across European sport by obtaining rights to matches for their streaming platform, Prime Video.
"There's two things that I take as a big positive to that interest. Finally people at the financial side are waking up to the potential of football and not just the potential of the sports leagues within the borders of America," said Pace.
"I think that the interest is out there in a good way, looking for ways to help the sport and its growth into America and hopefully create some opportunities for probably some more thoughtfulness and stability as to the way that clubs operate in different ways.
"When people are interested, they invest in it, they spend money and it gives people the opportunity to make money for further investment and create something different. I like it, I think its good, I wish them all the best as they try and go out and do the same things in different ways but I like it. Its good for the sport and its good for the fans."
2020 saw the reignition of the European Super League rumours, with other American owned clubs in the league (notably Manchester United and Liverpool) reportedly interested in being involved with these discussions. Pace was drawn on what he thought of the plans that could directly impact his side.
"My views on the Premier League are very, very clear. It is the best league in the world, bar none. That's my opinion. I can see why there is advantages and why it would turn heads and I think that thats never going to change. For some people, it will always be 'the grass is greener on the other side'. It makes complete sense for a club that is tapped out on revenue streams who can only see that as an opportunity.
"I like the Champions League format. I was turned onto football by going to a Real Madrid-Barcelona game, so I understand seeing Barcelona playing a Liverpool or Chelsea is fantastic. But that should not be, in my opinion, the everyday game. The everyday game is right here at home."
In order to help fund the move, Pace borrowed money from Michael Dell's MSD UK Holdings, which he remained coy on revealing the value of, with some fears mounting amongst Burnley fans who saw their fellow Lancashire side Manchester United plummet into debt after the Glazers funded their move for the club via a loan.
"I believe there is a way to be financially responsible that is sustainable," he started.
Overall, Pace kept his cards close to his chest with how he intends to be of benefit to Burnley FC, however, he is confident that he can help maintain the clubs on-field success and eventually grow the club to reach new heights.
Author: Jake Wilkin