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.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
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

Isis hostage crisis: The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power

Isis hostage crisis

The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power, says Robert Fisk
Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

Maverick artist Grayson Perry backs our campaign
Missing salvage expert who found $50m of sunken treasure before disappearing, tracked down at last

The runaway buccaneers and the ship full of gold

Salvage expert Tommy Thompson found sunken treasure worth millions. Then he vanished... until now
Assisted Dying Bill: I want to be able to decide about my own death - I want to have control of my life

Assisted Dying Bill: 'I want control of my life'

This week the Assisted Dying Bill is debated in the Lords. Virginia Ironside, who has already made plans for her own self-deliverance, argues that it's time we allowed people a humane, compassionate death
Move over, kale - cabbage is the new rising star

Cabbage is king again

Sophie Morris banishes thoughts of soggy school dinners and turns over a new leaf
11 best winter skin treats

Give your moisturiser a helping hand: 11 best winter skin treats

Get an extra boost of nourishment from one of these hard-working products
Frank Warren column: No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans

Frank Warren's Ringside

No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans
Isis hostage crisis: Militant group stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

Isis stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

The jihadis are being squeezed militarily and economically, but there is no sign of an implosion, says Patrick Cockburn
Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action

Virtual reality: Seeing is believing

Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action
Homeless Veterans appeal: MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’

Homeless Veterans appeal

MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’ to help
Larry David, Steve Coogan and other comedians share stories of depression in new documentary

Comedians share stories of depression

The director of the new documentary, Kevin Pollak, tells Jessica Barrett how he got them to talk
Has The Archers lost the plot with it's spicy storylines?

Has The Archers lost the plot?

A growing number of listeners are voicing their discontent over the rural soap's spicy storylines; so loudly that even the BBC's director-general seems worried, says Simon Kelner
English Heritage adds 14 post-war office buildings to its protected lists

14 office buildings added to protected lists

Christopher Beanland explores the underrated appeal of these palaces of pen-pushing
Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Scientists unearthed the cranial fragments from Manot Cave in West Galilee
World War Z author Max Brooks honours WW1's Harlem Hellfighters in new graphic novel

Max Brooks honours Harlem Hellfighters

The author talks about race, legacy and his Will Smith film option to Tim Walker