VIDEO: New Barnsley owners discuss why they made Oakwell move and future of Paul Heckingbottom
New Barnsley co-chairman Paul Conway insists the Reds' success story was too good an opportunity to turn down after hailing them as '˜one of the best-run clubs in England'.
American businessman Conway is part of the consortium, led by Chinese billionaire Chien Lee, who became the majority shareholders of the club on Tuesday.
After months of negotiations, Barnsley officially announced the deal had been completed - with the consortium taking over 80 per cent of the club.
Patrick Cryne, who is sadly suffering with terminal cancer, put the club up for sale earlier this year and his family have kept the other 20 per cent. The new board were unveiled to the mass media in a glitzy press conference at Oakwell yesterday. And Conway said: “When we heard the Barnsley story we thought it was too good to believe. We looked at different opportunities in England and nothing got to the finish line.
“When we heard what was going on and saw the results both financially and in player investment, it almost looked too good to be true.
“As we spent more time with Patrick and his family we realised this is the right club for us because it fits our skill set. This is one of the best run clubs in England.”
Although it is the dawning of a new era for Barnsley, the repeated message was “we will not do anything crazy” - but Reds fans will surely be optimistic. The success French club Nice have had since being taken over by the same group has been astonishing - in their first year after taking over, the club were catapulted into the Champions League for the first time in its history - and even more impressively, they did so whilst living within their means. That’s an approach that will resonate at Oakwell, with the Reds’ record of turning healthy profits year on year by scouting players from the lower leagues, developing them and selling them on.
Billy Beane - the pioneer of Moneyball, the stats-based approach of finding undervalued assets - is one of the investors, but funds are available in January and boss Paul Heckingbottom will now be eying up his targets. Conway added: “At Nice we dramatically increased the revenue of the club in the first year and with that we complemented the squad.
“After our first year investing in Nice the club finished third for the first time in 43 years and made it into the Champions League for the first time in its history.
“So we are going to keep a similar model, we are going to balance the budgets. We are not going to go crazy, but we want to grow year after year.”
And most importantly for the club, the owners are keen to keep highly-regarded coach Heckingbottom, who is currently in ongoing talks about a new deal, at the helm.
Conway said: “We are a big fan of Paul and he’s a big reason why we are here.
“It’s a unique story with a local manager at his local club.
“We want to help Paul with extra resources. We are confident of success because we can bring resources to the club.”