'WHO would be a football manager?’ Arsene Wenger must have asked himself that question a few times already this season.

It’s a phrase we often hear and use in reference to under pressure bosses at every level, and those, like Burnley’s Eddie Howe, who are trying to keep the win ratio high while the wage bill stays low.

But by the same token, who would be a football club owner, chairman or board member?

Barry Kilby and Brendan Flood were the best things since sliced bread when the Clarets won promotion to the Premier League, but the pedestal has been kicked from under them since they launched what was deemed a ‘firesale’ after failing to get back there at the first attempt.

They have been accused of ‘taking the money and running’ instead of reinvesting parachute payments into the 2011/12 squad, despite chairman Kilby accounting for the club’s current finances countless times through a range of media sources, including this newspaper.

His figures stack up, and they couldn’t afford to match Southampton when it came to the wages they were offering former Chelsea midfielder Jack Cork.

Equally, the board can ill afford not to provide Howe with the resources needed to meet still high expectations.

They can’t win.

Opinion was split when Chris Eagles and Tyrone Mears left halfway through pre-season.

Some saw the advantages of agreeing a joint £3million deal for a duo in the final year of their contracts.

Others were critical that they hadn’t pushed the boat out to get them to stay or even agree new terms.

The fact of the matter was that neither player wanted to. They wanted to leave and play in the Premier League. Entertaining extending contracts was not an option, especially once Bolton came calling.

Selling Danny Fox to Saturday’s opponents Southampton was the straw that broke the camel’s back though. The left back was hardly an out-and-out fans’ favourite, but it was the principle. Few, if anyone bar the board themselves, could see the logic in losing a key player, who on this occasion was happy where he was, to a rival club.

Wages again were a factor, with Kilby and co’s reasoning based on bracing themselves for the Financial Fairplay regulations that are expected to be enforced in 2013, whereby clubs who do not break even will be penalised.

It’s a strategy designed to put an end to the financial meltdowns experienced by the likes of Leeds, Portsmouth and, incredibly, Southampton, who with a new backer have returned to their big-spending ways.

The Burnley board are damned if they do and damned if they don’t, to coin a Kilby phrase, ‘bet the ranch’.

When you consider the state that Everton find themselves in – mortgaging future television payments – then surely their premature prudence is not misguided.

As long, that is, as Cork and Fox don’t come back to haunt them on Saturday.

Read the Burnley FC jury only in today's Lancashire Telegraph newspaper.