Sean Dyche has revealed the aeroplane stunt at Manchester City on Monday night caused considerable annoyance in the Burnley dressing room and several players other than Ben Mee wanted to take the opportunity to express their feelings on live television.
“It was my decision to let the captain speak for everyone, but Ben was not the only one upset by the whole episode,” the Burnley manager said. “Ben spoke fantastically well but a lot of our players were disgruntled, and understandably so. This club does a lot of work in the community and in local education projects, and we don’t want all our efforts undermined by a few people with an unacceptable message.
“This needs to be looked at as offensive behaviour by a small number of individuals rather than anything o do with the club or the town. We absolutely don’t accept that message, and it would be a harsh slur on a whole town if anyone believed the actions of the few people are in any way representative.”
Burnley entertain Watford on Thursday evening at Turf Moor, their first home game since the lockdown, and players from both sides intend to show solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement before kick-off in the way that the teams at the Etihad were doing when Monday’s unwanted interruption involving a “White Lives Matter” banner took place.
Dyche confirmed that Phil Bardsley has signed a new one-year deal after briefly being released by the club, and that Joe Hart, Jeff Hendrick, Aaron Lennon and Adam Legzdins are on their way out after coming to the end of their contracts.
The manager is believed to have expressed unhappiness at the club’s refusal to retain more players on short contracts – “If I did it would be the first time I have moaned to the board in seven and a half years at the club so I don’t think anyone could complain about that” – and finds himself somewhat shorthanded for the remaining eight games.
“It’s a bit of a weird one really,” Dyche said. “We’ve managed to come out of lockdown with considerably fewer players than we had when it started. In addition to the players out of contract we have Ashley Barnes, Robbie Brady, Johann Berg Gudmundsson and Chris Wood all out injured. We actually had everything we’d got out on the pitch at City the other night. We’ll still be able to fill the bench for the Watford game, but the rest of the season might be quite a challenge with the squad we’ve been left with.
“I can’t make the decision to retain or release players; I can only make recommendations to the board and that’s what I have been doing. All I would say is that we’re in good shape financially, we’re not in any sort of difficulty. I think everybody knows that Burnley tend not to spend fortunes on players, but decisions have been made and we have to get on with it.”