Simon Hart: Clean the toilets, sort out players' meals, pay the tax – at Accrington James Beattie has to do it all

Life beyond the Premier League

For a crash course in football management, James Beattie could not have picked a better place than Accrington Stanley. The Lancashire club have the Football League's smallest budget and lowest average attendance and, since taking the reins last May, the former Southampton, Everton and England striker has found himself doing everything, from cleaning toilets to negotiating players' contracts to providing an impromptu ticket service for supporters.

This latter task came when Accrington's recent fixture at Portsmouth was called off and he helped some fans get into Southampton's FA Cup tie against Burnley. "They tweeted me," Beattie tells The Independent. "I know the lads because we don't have that many fans. I got four tickets and they went and enjoyed themselves."

Beattie arrived at Accrington in November 2012 as player-coach, taking over as manager when Leam Richardson left for Chesterfield. "I have been so busy," says the 35-year-old, who returns to his family home in Dorset once a week to see his wife and three children. "A manager should have an army of people to delegate certain jobs to. Unfortunately for me, or fortunately for my experience, I don't have that luxury. I have been told by many managers and friends that I'll probably learn more in four or five months here than I will in the next 10 years.

"In the summer, we had eight players to start with and the smallest budget in the league. It was a massive challenge to get what I believe is a very good squad together on the money the lads are on." Such a challenge that he ended up paying a tax bill himself to ensure Accrington could recruit Kal Naismith, their joint-top scorer, from Rangers. "It is a struggle weekly," he adds. "I have had to defer wages from the boys a few times, but we're getting there."

The club's playing budget for the season is less than Wayne Rooney earns in a month and they do not have a single paid scout, leaving Beattie reliant on an online scouting platform. Yet he is raising standards. Stanley made their first trip abroad in pre-season to Portugal, and Beattie has brought in a chef to provide breakfast and lunch for the squad each day at Blackburn Rugby Club.

Within the club there is admiration for his level-headed approach. Accrington did not win any of his first 12 league matches, yet he did not waver. "I don't think I've ever had a problem with my own self-belief," he says. "The performances were there or thereabouts, we just needed that first win."

Beattie's ambition shines through when he articulates his wish to "change the whole DNA of the club" and he speaks with satisfaction of the recent audit of the club's academy, which earned category-three status. One young product, Connor Mahoney, joined Blackburn last month in a deal which will provide much-needed revenue. Further encouragement has come from elsewhere. "Everybody within the managerial frater-nity has been very helpful," he says, citing Gary Bowyer at Blackburn, Beattie's hometown club, whose training facilities Stanley use.

As a player, Beattie had fallouts with David Moyes and Tony Pulis, and he is keen to accentuate the bonds of trust being built with his squad. "I am treating the players well, I have experienced some highs and some lows in my career in that respect." Beattie sees the mental side of the game as "massive". "There is more to come from these players if we can get their minds right – if you can get seven, eight, nine players putting a performance in, you're in with a very good chance. The ultimate goal is to stay in the league but, as you've probably gathered, I know these players can deliver more." Stanley sit 22nd in the 24-team division but Beattie is a believer.

Life and Style
Fans line up at the AVNs, straining to capture a photo of their favourite star
life Tim Walker asks how much longer it can flesh out an existence
Life and Style
Every minute of every day, Twitter is awash with anger as we seek to let these organisations know precisely what we think of them
techWhen it comes to vitriol, no one on attracts our ire more than big businesses offering bad service
News
Professor David Nutt wants to change the way gravely ill patients are treated in Britain
people Why does a former Government tsar believe that mind-altering drugs have a place on prescription?
News
Norway’s ‘The Nordland Line – Minute by Minute, Season by Season’ continues the trend of slow TV
television
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
art
Sport
Jonny Evans has pleaded not guilty to an FA charge for spitting at Papiss Cisse
football
Life and Style
Kate Moss will make a cameo appearance in David Walliams' The Boy in the Dress
fashion
News
The image released by the Salvation Army, using 'The Dress'
news
Sport
Liverpool defender Kolo Toure
football Defender could make history in the FA Cup, but African Cup of Nations win means he's already content
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

Homeless Veterans campaign: Donations hit record-breaking £1m target after £300,000 gift from Lloyds Bank

Homeless Veterans campaign

Donations hit record-breaking £1m target after huge gift from Lloyds Bank
Flight MH370 a year on: Lost without a trace – but the search goes on

Lost without a trace

But, a year on, the search continues for Flight MH370
Germany's spymasters left red-faced after thieves break into brand new secret service HQ and steal taps

Germany's spy HQ springs a leak

Thieves break into new €1.5bn complex... to steal taps
International Women's Day 2015: Celebrating the whirlwind wit of Simone de Beauvoir

Whirlwind wit of Simone de Beauvoir

Simone de Beauvoir's seminal feminist polemic, 'The Second Sex', has been published in short-form for International Women's Day
Mark Zuckerberg’s hiring policy might suit him – but it wouldn’t work for me

Mark Zuckerberg’s hiring policy might suit him – but it wouldn’t work for me

Why would I want to employ someone I’d be happy to have as my boss, asks Simon Kelner
Confessions of a planespotter: With three Britons under arrest in the UAE, the perils have never been more apparent

Confessions of a planespotter

With three Britons under arrest in the UAE, the perils have never been more apparent. Sam Masters explains the appeal
Russia's gulag museum 'makes no mention' of Stalin's atrocities

Russia's gulag museum

Ministry of Culture-run site 'makes no mention' of Stalin's atrocities
The big fresh food con: Alarming truth behind the chocolate muffin that won't decay

The big fresh food con

Joanna Blythman reveals the alarming truth behind the chocolate muffin that won't decay
Virginia Ironside was my landlady: What is it like to live with an agony aunt on call 24/7?

Virginia Ironside was my landlady

Tim Willis reveals what it's like to live with an agony aunt on call 24/7
Paris Fashion Week 2015: The wit and wisdom of Manish Arora's exercise in high camp

Paris Fashion Week 2015

The wit and wisdom of Manish Arora's exercise in high camp
8 best workout DVDs

8 best workout DVDs

If your 'New Year new you' regime hasn’t lasted beyond February, why not try working out from home?
Paul Scholes column: I don't believe Jonny Evans was spitting at Papiss Cissé. It was a reflex. But what the Newcastle striker did next was horrible

Paul Scholes column

I don't believe Evans was spitting at Cissé. It was a reflex. But what the Newcastle striker did next was horrible
Miguel Layun interview: From the Azteca to Vicarage Road with a million followers

From the Azteca to Vicarage Road with a million followers

Miguel Layun is a star in Mexico where he was criticised for leaving to join Watford. But he says he sees the bigger picture
Frank Warren column: Amir Khan ready to meet winner of Floyd Mayweather v Manny Pacquiao

Khan ready to meet winner of Mayweather v Pacquiao

The Bolton fighter is unlikely to take on Kell Brook with two superstar opponents on the horizon, says Frank Warren
War with Isis: Iraq's government fights to win back Tikrit from militants - but then what?

Baghdad fights to win back Tikrit from Isis – but then what?

Patrick Cockburn reports from Kirkuk on a conflict which sectarianism has made intractable