Rumours of a link-up between Scottish Premiership Dundee and English Premier League Burnley have been bubbling away for some time.
Of late, those bubbles became more and more noticeable as young players left Turf Moor to spend time at Dens Park.
After Marcel Lewis came and went, Dara Costelloe arrived on New Year’s Day before Owen Dodgson followed later in the month.C
Clarets strike prospect Michael Mellon could well join them before January ends.
The wait for official confirmation of the relationship between the clubs, however, is now over after their respective owners announced their “strategic alliance” late on Monday night.
Burnley’s American custodians hope this is just the start of a lasting relationship that brings success on both sides of the border.
The Dark Blues have spoken of “a statement of intent” in joining forces with the Turf Moor outfit.
But who are the main players in the new link-up? Courier Sport takes a look.
Alan Pace – Burnley FC chairman/ALK Capital managing partner
Originally from California, Pace founded ALK Capital in 2019 before taking control of Burnley as majority shareholder.
A dual British-American citizen, Pace was a managing director at Lehman Brothers before being headhunted for the role of chief executive and president of MLS outfit Real Salt Lake.
Under his leadership, the Utah side progressed from last position to 2009 MLS champions in just two seasons.
He returned to banking before leaving again to set up ALK Capital in 2019 with a view to acquiring a football club.
Prior to that he’d focused on football scouting infrastructure tools, bringing recruitment technology products AiScout and Player Lens to the UK.
ALK’s Burnley takeover was completed at the end of 2020, with 84% of the club bought for £170 million.
Since then, the Clarets suffered relegation from the Premier League before appointing former Manchester City superstar Vincent Kompany as manager.
Kompany rebuilt the squad and dominated the Championship, taking the club back up to the top flight at the first time of asking.
They currently sit 19th in the Premier League after 21 games.
Tim Keyes and John Nelms – Dundee FC owner and managing director
Football Partners Scotland (FPS) are the other side of this deal.
FPS is the company set up by Texans Tim Keyes and John Nelms to purchase Dundee Football Club in 2013.
Through his family investment firm, Keyes Capital, Keyes is owner and chairman of the club, but is based in the US.
Nelms is his man on the ground, running the Dark Blues as managing director.
They have been in charge at Dens Park for over 10 years, with the club bouncing between Championship and Premiership along the way, with seven years spent in the Premiership.
The pair, through their Dark Blue Property Holdings company, are planning to build a new stadium for Dundee at Camperdown Park, with Nelms leading that project.
This link-up is expected to go beyond just a few loans crossing the border. Expertise and experience, knowledge and best practice will be shared.
Dundee have plenty of strength in those areas in their technical director, Gordon Strachan. After starting his career at Dens Park, Strachan played for Aberdeen, Manchester United, Leeds and Coventry City before a successful management career that took in Coventry, Southampton, Middlesbrough, Celtic and the Scotland national team.
Strachan has been in place at Dens Park since 2019 and has shaped the youth structure at the club as well as advising owners, managers, coaches and players.
Burnley, meanwhile, have some directors who Dundee would no doubt love to learn from.
Among them is Dave Checketts, who has been a leading figure in US sport and entertainment for four decades. His experience includes a stint as president of basketball franchise Utah Jazz at just 28 – the youngest in NBA history – time with the New York Knicks and a role as president and CEO at world-famous New York City venue Madison Square Garden.
He established Real Salt Lake in MLS before installing Alan Pace as club chief. Now Checketts is a director under Pace’s chairmanship at Burnley.
One figure who is likely to be much more hands-on from a Dundee point of view is Burnley director of football development Paul Jenkins.
Jenkins moved up to the director’s role after Scot, David Longwell, took over as academy manager at Turf Moor in August.
Originally from Renfrew, Longwell started at St Mirren’s academy in 2005 before a spell as assistant manager during Gary Teale’s time in charge of the Paisley club in 2014.
He later moved on to become academy boss at Orlando City and then New York Red Bulls before returning to the UK with Shrewsbury Town.
His opposite number at Dens Park is former Scotland international Stephen Wright.
Wright has headed up the Dark Blues’ academy since 2019 after leaving a youth role at Rangers.
One major link between the clubs when the news first emerged, meanwhile, was Charlie Adam.
A boyhood Dee who finished his playing career skippering the club, Adam was youth coach and loans manager at Turf Moor until late December.
As loans manager, Adam would have been a vital component in the partnership. However, he left Burnley to take on the manager’s role at Fleetwood Town at the turn of the year.
The Clarets are yet to announce his replacement.
Tony Docherty – Dundee manager
The man tasked with making the most of talented young loan players from Burnley will be Dens boss Tony Docherty.
The first on the books, Marcel Lewis, didn’t make a single appearance for the Dark Blues and returned south earlier in January.
However, Dara Costelloe made his debut on Saturday at Kilmarnock, followed by Owen Dodgson from the bench.
Michael Mellon could make up the maximum allowable trio of Burnley loanees at Dens if he arrives before the transfer window shuts.
Docherty has spoken this season about the benefits of the loan system for a club like Dundee.
Owen Beck’s impact in the first half of the campaign has shown that young players eager to earn first team experience can flourish in the environment created at Dens Park.
Burnley will be hoping to see more of that from their young prospects.
Dundee will certainly be keen to take advantage, with talented young players hopefully helping establish the Dee as Premiership regulars – then opening up new, loftier ambitions for the future.