George Burley

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George Burley
Personal information
Full name George Elder Burley[1]
Date of birth (1956-06-03) 3 June 1956 (age 67)[2]
Place of birth Cumnock, Scotland
Height 5 ft 10 in (1.78 m)[2]
Position(s) Right-back
Senior career*
Years Team Apps (Gls)
1973–1985 Ipswich Town 394 (6)
1985–1988 Sunderland 54 (0)
1988–1989 Gillingham 46 (2)
1989–1991 Motherwell 54 (0)
1991–1993 Ayr United 67 (0)
1993 Falkirk 1 (0)
1993–1994 Motherwell 5 (0)
1994 Colchester United 7 (0)
1994–1995 Ipswich Town 0 (0)
Total 628 (8)
International career
1976–1977 Scotland U21 5 (0)
1974–1975 Scotland U23 2 (0)
1979–1982 Scotland 11 (0)
Managerial career
1991–1993 Ayr United
1994 Colchester United
1994–2002 Ipswich Town
2003–2005 Derby County
2005 Heart of Midlothian
2005–2008 Southampton
2008–2009 Scotland
2009 Scotland B
2010–2011 Crystal Palace
2012 Apollon Limassol
*Club domestic league appearances and goals

George Elder Burley (born 3 June 1956) is a Scottish former football player and manager. He had a professional career spanning 21 years as a player, making 628 league appearances and earning 11 Scotland caps. His most successful spell came while at Ipswich Town making 394 senior appearances, and being part of the squad that won the FA Cup and UEFA Cup in 1978 and 1981 respectively.

Burley's managerial career began in 1990 with Ayr United and has since spent spells at seven different clubs, including an eight-year spell back at Ipswich Town as manager, which included a promotion to the Premier League and guiding the club to a fifth place league finish at that level. On 24 January 2008 he was appointed manager of the Scotland national team. He was sacked on 16 November 2009, following a 3–0 defeat to Wales.[3]

His nephew, Craig, is also a former Scotland international footballer.

Playing career[edit]

Burley was born in Cumnock, East Ayrshire.[2] He joined Ipswich Town in 1972 as an apprentice and made his senior debut against Manchester United at Old Trafford in 1973, being given the job of marking George Best. In 1978, he was a member of the Ipswich side which upset the odds to defeat Arsenal 1–0 in the FA Cup final. However, in 1981 injury forced him out of Ipswich's UEFA Cup final triumph over AZ Alkmaar. Town missed out on the First Division title on the last day of the season, finishing runners-up to Aston Villa.

In 1985, he joined Sunderland after making 500 appearances for Ipswich, and was part of the Sunderland team that slipped into the Third Division in 1987, only to win promotion a year later.

He played for Gillingham in the 1988–89 season, but was unable to prevent them from being relegated to the Fourth Division. He moved back to Scotland in 1989 to play for Motherwell.

Burley received eleven Scotland caps.[4]

Management career[edit]

Ayr United[edit]

Burley joined Ayr United as a player-manager in 1991, succeeding Ally MacLeod. In his first season, he took United to the B&Q Centenary Cup Final and again reached the final of the competition (by then renamed the B&Q Challenge Cup) the following season. However, he did not succeed in taking Ayr back to the Premier League and was dismissed in 1993 for adverse results with the side's place in the First Division in serious jeopardy.


Burley moved briefly to Falkirk in 1993 as a player before returning to Motherwell as player-coach.

Colchester United[edit]

In June 1994 Burley returned to East Anglia as player-manager of Colchester United. He played seven first team games and managed the club for 20 matches, 8 of which they won, before returning to Ipswich Town in December.

Ipswich Town[edit]

Burley was appointed manager at his former club, with Dale Roberts as his assistant, having had talks with Town without Colchester knowing and so compensation was duly paid.[citation needed] He made his playing return for Ipswich, ten years after his last game for the club in a match against Motherwell in 1995 although didn't feature again as a player.[5][6][7]

During an eight-year reign he took Ipswich to three play-offs semi finals before finally winning promotion to the Premier League on the fourth attempt via the play-offs at Wembley beating Barnsley 4–2.

The following season, he guided the club to fifth place and qualification for the UEFA Cup. This earned him the 2000–01 Premier League Manager of the Season award. Relegation the following season saw Burley's side struggling at the foot of Football League First Division and his contract was terminated by mutual agreement in 2002.

Burley again applied for the job in 2012, losing out to Mick McCarthy.[8] He was later critical of how the club was being run, in 2017, following the club's lowest finishing in nearly 60 years, stating that:

The tradition of this club, with what Alf Ramsey, Bobby Robson and even myself achieved shouldn't be forgotten. Right now, Ipswich should be contesting for the top six in the Championship every year at the very least – that's where I think they should be. I was at the club for 21 years as a player and manager and the standard never dropped below that. That's the level Ipswich Town should be endeavouring to be at again. That's where they should expect to be. It's that type of club.When I took over in 1994 the first thing I said was I wanted to take the club back into Europe and we did that.[9]

Burley again showed interest in the Ipswich job following Mick McCarthy's exit in 2018, but he again lost out in favour of Paul Hurst.[10]

In November 2002, Burley was on the verge of taking over as Stoke City manager, but he had a late change of heart and declined the offer.[11]

Derby County[edit]

In 2003, Burley became interim manager of Derby County while permanent manager John Gregory was suspended. Burley managed to halt Derby's alarming slide towards the relegation zone of the First Division (just one season after relegation from the Premier League) and kept the club up comfortably. Burley was then appointed manager permanently when Gregory was sacked. The following season (2003–04) was often a struggle, with Derby actually finishing two places lower than the season before, but there were signs of improvement. This showed through in the 2004–05 season when, despite spending no money on new players, Burley transformed Derby from relegation contenders to a fourth-place finish and play-off semi-finalists. However, things were not as happy as they seemed on the surface with Burley's relationship with director of football Murdo Mackay and the club's board (who sold star player Tom Huddlestone without informing Burley) being very strained. After days of speculation and mudslinging, Burley announced his resignation from Derby in June 2005.

Heart of Midlothian[edit]

Burley was appointed manager of Heart of Midlothian on 30 June 2005. A stunning start to his tenure as Hearts manager saw them top the Scottish Premier League after the first ten games, winning eight of these, including a 4–0 victory over rivals Hibernian – proving themselves to be genuine title challengers. However, he left the club the day after major shareholder Vladimir Romanov, with whom Burley had a notoriously uneasy relationship, announced a bid to take private control of Hearts. A club statement declared his departure was by mutual consent because of irreconcilable differences.[12]


Burley was appointed as Head Coach of Southampton on 23 December 2005 following the departure of Harry Redknapp.[13] The club's technical director, Sir Clive Woodward, was moved sideways to a newly created post as director of football as part of restructuring following Burley's appointment, before eventually leaving the club in August 2006. Following the change in control of the club in July 2006, Burley's title was changed to that of "manager". He guided Southampton to the 2006–07 play-offs but lost on penalties in the second-leg of the semi-final after drawing 4–4 on aggregate against his former club Derby County, who went on to win the final.


It was announced on 24 January 2008 that Burley had been appointed Scotland manager on a four-year contract.[14] He became the third former Ipswich manager to manage his country, as Alf Ramsey and Bobby Robson had before him. In his first match in charge, Scotland drew 1–1 with Croatia. In the following two friendlies, Scotland failed to register a victory, with a 3–1 loss against the Czech Republic, and a goalless draw with Northern Ireland.

Although winning 2–1 against Iceland in their second game of the 2010 World Cup qualifying campaign, Burley received heavy criticism for the 1–0 defeat to Macedonia in the opening match and a 0–0 home draw against Norway. Questions were raised about his choice of bringing on uncapped Chris Iwelumo (who missed an open goal from 3 yards) instead of proven-goal scorer Kris Boyd. The Rangers striker quickly announced his retirement from international football while Burley was still in charge.[15]

Scotland were defeated 3–0 in Amsterdam by the Netherlands, but then recovered by beating Iceland 2–1 at home. The team lost 4–0 to Norway in their next match, putting Burley's bid to take Scotland to the World Cup for the first time since 1998 in jeopardy.[16] Qualification to the play-offs remained in Scotland's hands, with the team needing to win the two remaining fixtures to be guaranteed second place. Scottish FA chief Gordon Smith moved to confirm that Burley's position was not under threat, but said that much depended on the final two matches.[17]

In the end, a 2–0 home victory over Macedonia at Hampden on 5 September 2009 was followed four days later by a 0–1 defeat at home to the Netherlands, ending Scottish hopes of qualifying for the finals.[18]

Despite failure to qualify for the 2010 World Cup, Burley was given the backing of the SFA at a meeting on 15 September 2009, to lead the country into the Euro 2012 qualifying campaign.[19]

His final game as Scotland manager was a 0–3 loss to Wales on 14 November 2009 in Cardiff.[20] On 15 November 2009, Burley came under fire, with reports suggesting he would lose his job as Scotland manager.[21] and the following day, Burley was sacked as manager of Scotland after winning just three out of fourteen games.[22]

Crystal Palace[edit]

On 17 June 2010, Burley took charge of Crystal Palace, with fellow Scot Dougie Freedman as his assistant.[23] His first league match as Crystal Palace manager ended in a 3–2 victory over Leicester City.[24] He was sacked after a 3–0 defeat against Millwall on New Year's Day, 2011.[25]

Apollon Limassol[edit]

On 10 May 2012, Burley was appointed as manager of Cypriot side Apollon Limassol.[26] He was sacked in September after just two games in charge, due to an alleged rift with the club's sporting director.[27]

Managerial statistics[edit]

Managerial record by team and tenure
Team From To Record Ref
P W D L Win %
Colchester United June 1994 November 1994 20 8 5 7 040.0 [28]
Ipswich Town December 1994 October 2002 410 185 97 128 045.1 [28]
Derby County March 2003 June 2005 107 39 25 43 036.4 [28]
Heart of Midlothian June 2005 October 2005 12 9 2 1 075.0 [28]
Southampton December 2005 January 2008 109 45 25 39 041.3 [28]
Scotland January 2008 November 2009 14 3 3 8 021.4 [28]
Scotland B May 2009 May 2009 1 1 0 0 100.0 [29]
Crystal Palace June 2010 January 2011 26 7 5 14 026.9 [28]
Apollon Limassol May 2012 September 2012 2 1 0 1 050.0 [27]
Total 701 298 162 241 042.5



Ipswich Town




Ayr United

Ipswich Town



  1. ^ "George Burley". Barry Hugman's Footballers. Retrieved 4 March 2017.
  2. ^ a b c "George Burley: Profile". HEIM:SPIEL. Retrieved 25 December 2019.
  3. ^ "George Burley sacked as Scotland manager". STV. 16 November 2009. Retrieved 16 November 2009.
  4. ^ George Burley at the Scottish Football Association
  5. ^ "Pride of Anglia – Ipswich Town Football Club".
  6. ^ "Pride of Anglia – Ipswich Town Football Club".
  7. ^ "Pride of Anglia – Ipswich Town Football Club".
  8. ^ "George Burley wants Ipswich Town job". BBC Sport. 25 October 2012. Retrieved 31 May 2017.
  9. ^ Watson, Stuart (29 May 2017). "Ipswich Town's standards should remain high, insists George Burley". East Anglian Daily Times. Retrieved 31 May 2017.
  10. ^ "George Burley wants to be the next Ipswich manager". east Anglain Daily Times. 4 May 2018. Retrieved 20 October 2018.
  11. ^ Smith, Peter (1 November 2017). "The inside story behind what Stoke City did after George Burley's disappearing act". StokeonTrentLive. Retrieved 30 December 2019.
  12. ^ "Burley in shock exit from Hearts". BBC Sport. 22 October 2005. Retrieved 21 January 2007.
  13. ^ "Saints name Burley as head coach". CBBC Newsround. 23 December 2005. Retrieved 12 August 2007.
  14. ^ "Burley appointed Scotland manager". BBC Sport. 24 January 2008. Retrieved 24 January 2008.
  15. ^ Forsyth, Roddy (12 October 2008). "Iwelumo-Boyd situation". Telegraph Sport. Retrieved 14 February 2010.
  16. ^ Lindsey, Clive (12 August 2009). "Norway 4–0 Scotland". BBC Sport. Retrieved 12 August 2009.
  17. ^ "Burley's position is safe – Smith". BBC Sport. 13 August 2009. Retrieved 13 August 2009.
  18. ^ "Scotland 0–1 Netherlands". BBC Sport. 9 September 2009. Retrieved 16 November 2009.
  19. ^ "Burley remains as Scotland boss". BBC Sport. 15 September 2009. Retrieved 15 September 2009.
  20. ^ "Wales 3–0 Scotland". BBC Sport. 14 November 2009. Retrieved 16 November 2009.
  21. ^ "Burley set to lose Scotland post". BBC Sport. 16 November 2009. Retrieved 16 November 2009.
  22. ^ "Burley sacked as Scotland manager". BBC Sport. 16 November 2009. Retrieved 16 November 2009.
  23. ^ "Burley Named Manager". Crystal Palace FC. 17 June 2010. Archived from the original on 9 September 2011. Retrieved 12 October 2013.
  24. ^ "Crystal Palace 3 – 2 Leicester". BBC Sport. 7 August 2010.
  25. ^ "Crystal Palace sack manager George Burley". BBC Sport. 1 January 2011. Retrieved 1 January 2011.
  26. ^ "Burley Moves to Cyprus". TWTD. 10 May 2012. Retrieved 10 May 2012.
  27. ^ a b Jackson, Keith (21 September 2012). "George Burley sacked by Cypriot side after just two games in charge". Daily Record. Retrieved 21 September 2012.
  28. ^ a b c d e f g "George Burley Managerial Statistics". Soccerbase. Retrieved 14 September 2020.
  29. ^ "Scotland B manager profile". Retrieved 12 October 2017.
  30. ^ "Third Division Days – Sunderland AFC 1987/88". Ryehill Football. 9 February 2018. Retrieved 14 September 2020.
  31. ^ "George Burley profile". Scottish Football Association. Archived from the original on 10 October 2008. Retrieved 26 October 2007.
  32. ^ "Scottish League Challenge Cup Finals". Rec.Sport.Soccer Statistics Foundation. Retrieved 14 September 2020.
  33. ^ "Ipswich triumph at last". BBC News. 29 May 2000. Retrieved 7 February 2008.
  34. ^ a b "Manager profile: George Burley". Premier League. Retrieved 18 September 2018.
  35. ^ "League Managers Association – George Burley". Retrieved 20 December 2020.
  36. ^ "League Managers Association – LMA Manager of the Year". Retrieved 30 December 2019.
  37. ^ "Four Town players in Hall of Fame". East Anglian Daily Times. 17 April 2010. Retrieved 21 March 2014.
  38. ^ a b "Scottish Premier League Manager, Player & Young Player of the Month Awards". My Football Facts. Retrieved 21 April 2017.

External links[edit]