Legacy being left by Patrick Cryne means the future’s bright for Barnsley

Patrick Cryne owner of Barnsley Football Club
Patrick Cryne owner of Barnsley Football Club
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Barnsley are about to embark on a new era - but what does the future hold for the South Yorkshire club?

Terminally ill owner Patrick Cryne is selling up due to his health, with ‘Moneyball’ pioneer Billy Beane part of the consortium buying Cryne’s 98.5 per cent share of the club.

It is undoubtedly a time for optimism around Oakwell, but the sale also brings about an air of uncertainty.

The club celebrated its 130th birthday last weekend and in all those years it has always been in the hands of a supporter.

When a fan runs a club the club will always be at the forefront of the owner’s thoughts and although the Reds is now a profitable business Cryne has always tried to do right by the club.

You only have to look at what the Venky’s have done to Blackburn Rovers across the Pennines to realise just how badly new ownership can go.

Their poor running of a once powerhouse in English football has seen their average attendance drop by 70% since taking over in 2010.

Chinese billionaire Chien Lee and his consortium, which includes American businessman Paul Conway, have failed in their six previous attempts to break into the English football market in the part year.

Hull City, Reading, Queens Park Rangers, Middlesbrough, Sunderland and Brentford are the clubs they previously tried to buy.

Brentford is one that sticks out as they have been constantly competing with clubs around them on a significantly smaller budget - just like Barnsley.

But it looks like Lee’s consortium have finally cracked it after agreeing to buy 98.5 per cent of Cryne’s shares.

The deal, which will see Patrick’s son James keep a 1.5 per cent stake and help run the club, is with the English Football League and the EFL are now conducting their due diligence process - but all parties expect the sale to go through before the end of the month.

Barnsley made a £13m profit in the last financial year and the buyers see room for even more growth and improvement for the club.

And because of that the £20m deal includes the new owners taking on the club’s £6m debt.

Their intention to settle the debt is a good indication that they will be willing to plough funds into the club - just like Cryne did when they were struggling after he became the “reluctant” custodian in 2004.

Lee and Conway have had success at Nice since taking up an 80 per cent share at the French club last year, which is also a positive sign.

The die-hard Reds’ fans will want to see big-money transfers come through the door, but why mess with a proven method of recruitment at this stage?

Barnsley have fought above their weight class over the past few years by using data and analytics to find bargain buys - which is right up Beane’s street given his background.

The new owners want to buy 50 per cent of Oakwell from the council, presumably to give it a much-needed facelift so the future looks bright for Barnsley, who face Wolves on Saturday.

Cryne may soon be gone from the club, but the legacy he has built since 2004 will continue.