Leicester City tipped to take Burnley blueprint for success
Leicester City have been given a blueprint for a quick return to the Premier League.
In the week that the countdown to the season gathers pace, football academic John Williams has suggested that City follow the Burnley route to success.
The Blue Army will know the scale of the task facing their heroes when the fixtures for the Championship campaign are published on Wednesday.
Williams, a sports sociologist at Leicester University who has carried out years of research into football and its fans, believes City can take inspiration from Burnley's promotion to the Premier League last season.
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The Lancashire club made it back into the top flight through the play-offs after a 33-year absence.
Williams said: "They can be the inspiration to City because they have got up into the really big time without spending a lot of money."
And he compared Clarets manager Owen Coyle to former City boss Martin O'Neill, who developed City into a Premier League top-10 side with two League Cup wins and a place in Europe.
"Just like in O'Neill's time at Leicester, the players at Burnley are an incredibly motivated group of players and Coyle is a good judge of players," said Williams.
But Williams thinks City will find it tough despite Milan Mandaric's pledge to back Nigel Pearson's rebuilding plans.
Williams believes City are facing strong competition to attract the quality of players needed to mount another title push after winning League One last season.
So far, Pearson has signed Bristol City goalkeeper Chris Weale and Hearts defender Robbie Neilson and made two loan players from last season, Jack Hobbs and Wayne Brown, permanent captures for the Walkers Stadium club.
Lincoln winger Dany N'Guessan says he has also struck a deal to join City.
But Williams says the arrival of Newcastle, Middlesbrough and West Brom from the Premier League puts these clubs in the driving seat in the close-season transfer merry-go-round
"Inevitably, City will be behind the likes of Newcastle, Middlesbrough and West Brom in the market for players because those three clubs have been relegated from the Premier League with parachute payments," said Williams.
"Newcastle's situation might not be that good but they have a huge fan base and £30million worth of players, which is a high value. If a couple of these teams get off to a flier, you could be looking at just one place into the Premier being up for grabs."
Williams said it is difficult to predict how much Mandaric needs to spend to push City back into the top flight. He is not ruling out City making an immediate impact but says it is more likely if will take at least two seasons to return to the top flight.
He said: "I can't put a figure on what City need to spend but, if they do really well and end up back in the Premier League, the £14.5m debt written off by Mandaric at the end of May 2008 will have been a small price to pay and will have seemed entirely worth it.
"He may have to spend a lot of money but the stakes are very high.
"I think the City fans understand that the club may need one or two seasons to establish itself in the Championship.
"But, after that period, the fans will be expecting a challenge and Mandaric will have to accept that expectation.
"And I'm sure Nigel Pearson won't be expecting to still be at the club in three years if they are not established in the Premier League."
Williams also said that, if the Walkers Stadium is staging top-flight football in the next three years, it would enhance City's chances of staging World Cup matches if England's bid for the 2018 competition is successful.
"The team making the bid will be looking for suitable grounds a good while before they submit their application and Leicester will need to be in the Premier League to be in with a shout," he added.