Bolton Wanderers top of debt-ridden Championship in-the-red league table
DEBT levels across the Championship are approaching the £1billion mark, according to a recent report.
Financial Fair Play rules will be enforced for the first time this summer, in a move that the Football League hope will help stem the escalating financial problems of clubs outside the top flight.
The report, published by The Guardian, quoted the Football League’s chief executive Shaun Harvey as saying the winner of the play-off final would receive the same cash reward from one season in the top flight as “from playing in the Championship for the next 30 years.”
Twenty of the 24 second-tier clubs made a loss in their most recent published accounts. Wanderers’ record £50.7m loss took their debts – owed in the main to owner Eddie Davies – to £163.8m.
The Whites dropped out of the Premier League with debts of £136.5m announced the following November, and are now having to make significant cuts to fall into line with the FFP ruling, which allows them an £8million loss in their next accounts.
Failure to do that would result in a transfer embargo or, in the result of promotion, a heavy fine.
Wanderers are one of several clubs outside the top flight who have considered legal action over the implications of FFP.
There is considerable concern that the stringent rules of FFP do not take into consideration clubs like Bolton, who had built up a Premier League infrastructure over the course of 11 years that was impossible to scale down at such a quick rate of knots.
But with recent sanctions taken against Manchester City seeming to indicate that the rule-makers are willing to make examples out of those who do not fall into line, it appears every penny will be counted this summer.
Wanderers’ own debt is by far the largest in the Championship this season, more than £50m clear of champions Leicester City, with the last recorded wage bill, £37.4m, also the highest in the division.
It is expected the next set of financial figures will show considerable reductions on that front but the club now face the dilemma of rebuilding a squad capable of challenging for promotion whilst also making sure they keep within the guidelines.
The clamour to sign Lukas Jutkiewicz sums up their conundrum.
The striker, a huge hit with the fans in a 20-game loan spell that saw him score seven goals, looks a relative steal at £1m – the price Boro have put on his head this summer.
But to service such a signing is nowhere near as easy as it once was at Bolton, however tempting it might seem.
Word from within the club is that every avenue is being explored to conjure enough money to bring Jutkiewicz in for next season but, crucially, no promises are being made either.