Fulham are relegated from the Premier League as Burnley win, and stay up: live reaction

The laws of sports hackery oblige me to dub this “a relegation six-pointer” but I’m not so sure. Fulham are nine points behind Burnley with a slightly inferior goal difference. Both sides have played 34. If Fulham win, they’ll still be six points worse off with three to play. I guess stranger things have happened but given that Fulham have only won five games all season, it’ll be a proper Houdini job from here. Still, there seems to be a decent energy around the Craven Cottage side right now

Here’s a preview.

Sean Dyche insists Burnley are in a good position to fend off fresh bids for £50 million-rated James Tarkowski after revealing how they were initially unable to afford to pay just £300,000 for the England defender.

Burnley are braced for another summer of strong interest in the coveted 28-year-old, who is a target for Leicester City and West Ham United. The Champions League hopefuls have each failed with bids of £30 million as Burnley fight to hold on to their prize asset, who slipped through the net seven years ago due to financial constraints at Turf Moor.

The former Blackburn youth centre-back’s impressive partnership with captain Ben Mee has played a big part in helping Dyche’s side to the verge of securing a sixth consecutive season of Premier League football on one of the top flight’s tightest budgets.

Manchester-born Tarkowski’s Turf Moor career could have started two years earlier than his eventual £4 million arrival from Brentford in 2016, and Dyche revealed: “I tried to get James from Oldham a few years back, but the board wouldn’t give me the £300,000 it would have taken. The lad wanted to come but the board said they had to pay for a bag of chips instead so he ended up at Brentford.

“Joking apart, when I arrived we were spending very little, if anything. It sounds crazy now but we lost out on James for 300 grand. It shows how radically it has changed financially because at that stage it was deemed too much. Eventually we got a chance to get him in with a bit more money.

“To be fair to the lad, he had to wait for his opportunity but he was so diligent to his profession and we made sure we looked after him with his contract. Then when the chance came, he took it. We had a similar scenario a bit later with Andre Gray who we ended up paying more for despite having gone in earlier, but James is the more obvious one.”

Dyche admits every player has their price and the likes of Tarkowski and Manchester City academy product Mee could well eventually move on, but only for the right fee. He feels the club are in a stronger position financially since the £170 million takeover by American investment group ALK Capital.

“There’s a bit more strength financially with the new owners, but there’s a reality to this club and when someone hits that number, whatever is deemed appropriate, then it’s likely a player will go,” he said.

“James and Ben have both matured into very good players. The difference is that even before the new owners came in, we were stronger in that we didn’t have to sell. There was a time when we did need to take the money and while we can’t always keep players forever, we are in a position to fend off bids that are not good enough.”

Burnley took just two points from their first seven games, but results have improved in line with a clearing treatment room, meaning victory at Fulham tonight will banish any lingering relegation doubts while condemning the hosts to the drop.

Dyche added: “We’re in a league where the superpowers keep on spending, and even clubs who haven’t always been at the top are also investing heavily. We fell behind a bit with that. I suggested three years ago that we needed a heavier period of investment but the club didn’t wish to do that at the time so we have developed a team who have bought into what we’re trying to do.”

Meanwhile, Scott Parker claims he is not “mad or deluded in any way” for insisting his belief in Fulham’s ability to remain in the top flight has not waned. His side are nine points from safety with only 12 points available from the remaining four matches of the season. “I understand the predicament we’re in and I understand how difficult that challenge is, but it’s still there,” he said.

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