Kilby - Stan's the best boss we have had for 20 years

THE Clarets may have been hit by a case of the mid-winter blues as the harsh reality of life in Division One kicks in.

But it will take more than a blip in form for Turf Moor chairman Barry Kilby to take his eye off the ball.

Burnley need a win to restore some cheer but Kilby -- who retained his manager after successive five and six-nil home defeats two years ago -- is not a man to panic and continues to take the longer view.

The chairman is putting everything in place to make Burnley's stay in the top third of English football's hierarchy more than a flash in the pan and the manager that led them from the bottom of Division Two is a key part of his strategy.

"We've got a fantastic manager in Stan Ternent. He's done a superb job and that's why we signed him on another contract.

"He's very passionate about Burnley Football Club and that's what makes him such a superb manager for us.

"If he explodes, most people realise that is the man. His passion is what makes him so good and I challenge anyone to say he's not the best manager we've had for 20 years," Kilby said.

Despite no major slump in playing standards, Burnley have suddenly entered a run in which they have won just once in nine games with goals easing up at one end and going in too readily at the other.

Some of the natives have become restless but Kilby believes they have short memories. "I can only say 'look at how far we've come'," he said.

"It's extremely unreasonable. We are ahead of schedule.

"As soon as we had suspensions and a couple of injuries we didn't have a big enough squad. But that's bound to happen.

"The club was on its uppers two years ago and it's been a long stretch to be where we are and we want to keep improving.

"We're not sitting back on our laurels and I think the majority of Burnley fans are for us.

"What we wanted to do was establish ourselves as a First Division club, not to get relegated as we have done in the past.

"We want to think in terms of where we are in the whole football family and we have gone from the bottom third into the top third. We are above clubs like Wolves and Crystal Palace which is starting to be an achievement."

And the chairman doesn't just want to stand still.

"The aim is to improve on our position next year," he added. "We are 30th in the league and we want to edge closer to the top with the next goal that play-off place -- and we're not that far off.

"There is a gap and I want us to be there as of a right, a natural club in that position.

"To a large extent it won't be as easy, not to move up with the speed we have done to get this far.

"But what I want is ultimately to get in that Premiership. It's still there as a goal, although I know how tough it is."

Even before that Burnley need to guarantee safety this time around. And while that's virtually certain to happen it's been a long time coming after Ternent's men made such a flying start.

"No-one feels the frustration more than me. The chairman and the board are supporters," said Kilby, who has paid £3 million of his own money to support his club. Kilby, who sold the majority stake in his gaming company Europrint to finance his Turf Moor takeover, knows what it takes to form a multi-million pound company from nothing.

Having done it in commerce, he's now trying to do it in football. But while it might be a labour of love for the lifetime Clarets fan, it's also about business and trying to balance the books.

Kilby won't allow Burnley to get into financial trouble again, despite the rapidly rising costs of running a successful First Divison club.

The wage bill is set to climb to around £6 million this year, while the club is looking to spend around £1.5 million on improving facilities.

Another £500,000 also has to go out on re-payments for the two most recently built stands so to offset that Burnley are banking on a record income of around £8.5 million to achieve Kilby's goal of breaking even.

The £4 million raised in the share issue that heralded Kilby's arrival as chairman has been swallowed up in getting Burnley where they are now so it doesn't take a genius to see that Ternent's transfer fund can't be a bottomless pit.

"We know the types of players we want to bring in but we can't afford any big mistakes. We are doing very well but we've got to keep going at it," said Kilby.

"We have never had a big player to sell. Look at Ipswich. They have had a £1.5 million sale to balance the books for about four years on the trot.

"Nearly every club you look at has done that but we've not had one bean. We've never had source of revenue and not had a great return on the youth coming through."

There is money to spend for the manager, who has already broken the club's transfer record on Ian Moore this season.

But Burnley are no longer a big fish in the small pool of the bottom two divisions as they tackle the twin challenge of building on the platform they have created, while not jeopardising their long-term future.

"Now we are in a league where there are clubs that are financially more powerful than we are, be it with a rich benefactor or a big city club that could lose Burnley in one corner," the chairman added.

"They have £10 million, £20 million wage bills and even below us there are some big clubs.

"Now we have got to really work hard and box clever and play to every strength we've got to be the smartest kids on the block.

"We are actually punching above our fighting weight and people should judge us on how shrewdly we play the cards we're dealt with.

"We can't put the club on the buffers with wild speculation. We have to be careful not to over extend ourselves. We've got to balance the books.

"We are in place to be smart and manage our resources well. We hav got to run it right and be strong."