Last night before I went to bed, I saw the statement from Mr Chansiri:
For me, the statement raises more questions than it answers.
“Many people have suggested that I invested the amount of money I did – and continue to do – in order to achieve promotion to the Premier League. But this is not correct. I invested these sums to stay in the Championship, to ensure we would have the best chance of avoiding relegation. If promotion came, then great, but building from the bottom gave us the best opportunity of getting to the top.”
Have we really built from the bottom? Perhaps my definition differs from Mr Chansiri’s. My definition of building from the bottom would be to invest heavily in youth and develop players that come from the academy. We have started moving towards this model, but over the last few years we seem to have spent a lot of money on established players such as, Fletcher, Rhodes, Abdi, Hooper, Westwood, in addition to other players with varying degrees of experience such as Forestieri, Reach, Lees, Hunt, Pudil, Bannan and so on. We have been signing players who are close to being the finished article. This is not building for the future, as I see it, but rather building a team that is capable of promotion in the present moment. Two consecutive finishes in the play-offs support this assertion. If you want to look at clubs building from the bottom, you only have to look at our city rivals who have spent a fraction of what we have but are now on course for promotion. Spending to avoid relegation? That’s not the impression I’ve had from watching our spending.
“To make our situation 100% clear, we are not under any kind of embargo right now. However, if our problems cannot be solved by March when we submit our accounts to the EFL, another soft embargo is inevitable. This will become a full embargo if again the problems cannot be solved at the end of the financial year.”
This statement, perhaps more than any other in the whole press statement has confused me. Imagine playing a hand of poker and revealing to the other players that you have a two of hearts, and five of clubs and a seven of spades, and then trying to bluff that you have four of a kind. We have suggested, indirectly, that we are a selling club in dire need of money. We may as well have placed a half price sticker on all our players. We have voluntarily hamstrung our own negotiating position. The transfer window ends at the end of January, we don’t have to submit accounts until March. We have played this hand very badly. This statement was very badly timed in my opinion.
“Some have said why not spend smaller amounts of money and still aim for promotion but football has changed a lot in recent years and how many clubs will realistically achieve that target? There will be some examples as this is football but very few. That level of investment went into Wednesday 15 years and more before my time without success when it was not so hard as it is today.”
This is a false dichotomy. There is third option between spending as much as possible and spending nothing. There is a correlation between wages and league standings, but it’s only a correlation to which there are exceptions. The problem for Sheffield Wednesday is not how much we’ve spent or where we have finished; it is the fact we have not spent wisely, it is that we have not sold wisely and it is the fact we have massively underperformed on the pitch. It’s about the balance between expectation and reality. Sheffield Wednesday fans are amongst the most patient, perhaps to the extreme of apathetic, that you will find in English football.
“So with the problems we faced, I believe many people thought they were not true as there are too many experts on Sheffield Wednesday who are really no experts at all. I have said for a long time that I cannot do this by myself but if I could, I would. Money is not the issue here, it is all about revenue, that is the difference. I have done everything I can in my power. This is why I launched Club 1867 last time and this is why I will launch a new version of Club 1867 again, with pricing and structures to enable as many fans as possible to help avoid the problems we could face again. No one fully understands how hard it has been for me to solve the problems last time, something I never wish to experience alone ever again.”
If you are falling from a plane, flapping your arms will not save you. Following the issues with club memberships in recent years, I for one am too fatigued to consider another form of membership scheme. Our only solution is to sell players, which we have now made even more difficult through this press statement. We need to sell players for as much as possible and clear the decks, then start afresh next season. Realistically, we could have achieved £10M+ for Reach, but following these revelations many suitors will attempt to drive that price as low as possible. I would not be surprised to see Reach sold for an “undisclosed fee” that ends up being just slightly higher than the £5M we paid for him. If Middlesbrough have a sell-on clause, we could end up making a loss on him.
Reports I’ve read suggest we need £15M-£20M to avoid sanctions. Had we kept this internal we could have raised that, and more, by selling Reach and Forestieri. Now, I fear we will need to sell three or more players to raise that capital. This assumes we get the full amount and don’t have to pay any third parties and sell-on fees or associated costs.
I’m feeling really fed up with our current situation now. I fear this is going to get worse before it gets better. If we don’t resolve our financial issues for the medium to long term, we risk losing over fourteen players from our squad when contracts end this season and through sales this month, without the means to adequately replace them. We will be relying on youth, free transfers and loans where we can only pay reduced wages. We tried that twice before and each time ended up in League One.
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Critic. Writer. Thinker. Observer. Creator of nowwelive.com.