BURNLEY’S out-of-contract stars will have to swallow a substantial pay cut if they want to stay at Turf Moor.

Out of the nine players whose deals expire in the summer, the Clarets are understood to have held early talks with Lee Grant, Chris McCann (pictured below), Martin Paterson, Dean Marney and Kevin Long.

Winger Ross Wallace has also previously spoken of his eagerness to agree new terms.

But anyone who manager Sean Dyche wishes to keep for next season would be expected to take a financial hit – possibly as much as 40 per cent – as the club continues to strive to drive down the wage bill.

In the 21 months that Eddie Howe was manager of Burnley, player salaries were slashed by around £5m.

On taking over from Brian Laws in January 2011, the former defender inherited a wage bill of £11.7m. By the end of the last financial year (July 2012) Howe had whittled that down to £7.4m.

That total had dropped further still, to just over £6.5m, by the start of this season.

The Clarets posted a profit of £3.16million for the last financial year, but a second consecutive £4m-plus loss was only avoided by the £7m record summer sale of Jay Rodriguez to Southampton.

With the club set to receive its final Premier League parachute payment this summer, the focus remains on making cutbacks, unless they can find a route back to the top flight.

Speaking at the club’s Annual General Meeting in December, re-elected director Clive Holt said: “The next few years are going to be very challenging with the Financial Fair Play rules starting to bite, but I am sure we will have plans and ways of doing it. “In some ways it will work against us, but then in other ways itwill be good because we will have to work within our means and punch above our weight.

“We have paid good wages, and players will have to have realistic expectations.

“It’s a difficult path for the joint chairmen to guide us through.”

Unless new deals can be agreed, first team regulars Grant, McCann, Wallace, Marney, Paterson and Michael Duff would all be allowed to leave on a free transfer in the summer.