Transfer Window Assesment

Douglas McNeill is back with another guest post. Enjoy.

After my July piece on Fulham’s finances, I promised a follow-up once the transfer window had closed. So here goes. I see eight key points.

1. There has been a marked reduction in squad size. Eleven players have gone (Dembele, Dempsey, Etuhu, Gecov, Gryhgera, Halliche, Johnson, Murphy, Pogrebnyak, Riise BH, and Sa) and only six have come in (Berbatov, Dejagah, Petric, Richardson, Riether and Rodallega). That’s why…

2. …Berbatov is affordable. His transfer fee was relatively cheap, but his wages aren’t. He’s on a reported £100k a week, whereas I reckon that the average at Fulham is only about £40k. But with five fewer players in the squad, his arrival probably won’t mean an increase in the overall wage bill. And…

3. …there was a healthy overall cash surplus. It looks to have been around £13m, with the sale of Dembele and Dempsey leaving plenty left over even after the acquisition of Berbatov, Dejagah and Richardson. That sounds like a great start to the year, in financial terms. But on the other hand…

4. …the big financial change this season is the absence of Europa League income. Last year, there would have been £8-9m of that, I reckon. But having banked a £13m surplus in the transfer window just ended, Fulham can expect to break even in cash terms this season – even if the Premier League campaign goes badly. In fact…

5. …we could probably finish bottom of the league and still break even. In contrast, a ninth-place finish – as currently predicted by the spread-betting markets – would mean a surplus of around £10m. So…

6. …Jol’s budget in the January transfer window will depend heavily on league form. If a top-half finish is on the cards, then I imagine he’ll be allowed to spend away that £10m. If not, then his spending power will be reduced accordingly. Of course, he may also want to make some disposals in January, especially since…

7. …nearly half the squad is out of contract next summer. But of the players in question, probably only Senderos has resale value in January. He’ll be 28 next year, whereas the others will all be 30 or over. Ditto for those whose deals expire in summer 2014 (e.g. Berbatov, Riise, Sidwell). But at that point, a number of players will be sub-30 and still have a year left on their contracts – namely Dejagah, Frei, Kacaniklic, Kasami, Richardson, Rodallega, Ruiz and Stockdale. Therefore…

8. …it looks like summer 2014 will be the next chance to bring in some significant cash from the transfer market. So whilst it looks to me as though Jol will have £10m at his disposal in January, he might actually prefer to keep it up his sleeve until next summer.

Incidentally, a version of this piece appears at SummingUpSoccer.blogspot.co.uk where I’ve also written on Chelsea, for anyone who is interested.

11 thoughts on “Transfer Window Assesment

  1. Nicely written. Persuasive argument. Well done. Still room, I believe, for one or two out of contract additions to the squad. And I doubt Berbatov is on 100k per week – that would surely cause severe resentment in the squad amongst the likes of Hangeland, Ruiz etc., and I doubt Mo would sanction it.

    1. Yes, it could be that Berbatov is on less. I’ve only found one press report with a number, and it’s unwise to regard these reports as wholly reliable. The number could be exaggerated; or it could be a kind of all-in, best-case scenario that only occurs if certain targets are met e.g. appearances, or final league position. On the other hand, it seems that there was serious interest in the player from several fairly wealthy clubs, namely Juventus, Fiorentina (!) and Spurs. So it may well be that we had to pay up to convince him to come.

  2. I don’t think we should pretend to know things that we don’t.

    Average salary £40K per week? Really? The average?

    £8M to £9M earned from the Europa League last year? As much as that? We went out early and had early matches in tiny grounds and untelevised.

    I’ve no idea what Berbatov’s contract has cost us and neither does anyone else who might be reading this.

    What I do know is that MAF has had a tendency to authorise spending when it’s been necessary and I imagine (I really don’t know) that the better we do before January the less we’ll spend in that window.

    1. My eyes paused on the very same thing. 8-9m from Europa? Seems high. I don’t believe the winner gets that much, thus explaining a big reason why your Man Utds of the world don’t give a rat’s bottom about getting far after parachuting in.

    2. No pretending on my part, as is perfectly apparent from language couched in the conditional and subjunctive tenses and including words like “my estimate”, “I reckon”, and “looks to have been”. Sure, there’s a lot we don’t know. But there’s quite a lot that we DO know, and it’s surely perfectly in order to fill in as much of the jigsaw as we can and try and fill in the blanks with some intelligent conjecture.

      A fair point re. Europa League earnings – see comment further down the page. As for the £40K figure, the reasoning behind it is set out in my previous post in July. I think it amounts to a sensible approach, but I’d be more than happy to consider a different one, or to hear clues that point to a different conclusion. It’s an important question if we want to better understand our competitiveness in the transfer market and the constraints under which Jol has to operate.

      1. But if it’s all based on conjecture and estimates it really is meaningless.

        £40K per week = £2M per year.

        I read that the average prem wage was approaching £1M. That of course takes into account everyone from Rooney to a squad player at, say, Norwich.

        Now that figure may well be wrong but if £2M is OUR average then our 25 man squad is costing us £50M per annum. We do of course employ literally hundreds of others from coaches, administrators, back room staff etc.

        Your average must be way too high.

        The accounts tell us, a year or so in arrears, what we earn and what running the club costs. So we know that – no analysis is necessary.

        The level of transfer spending will largely be based on perceived need and MAF’s generosity. Trying to analyse that with figures that are largely guesswork is meaningless.

        In my opinion of course.

  3. While there’s been a significant reduction in squad size, it’s worth noting that a number of the guys who were outbound (Gecov, Halliche, Riise, Sa) weren’t significant factors in the first team, whereas all the new signings apparently will be. Plus we’ve “added” Kacaniklic and Trotta, who aren’t new signings but are newly in the first team picture.

    1. True enough. I must admit I had factored in more than that, based on our group stage earnings in 2010. On the other hand, I also included an estimate for gate receipts from the competition under this heading, since that’s the way the club accounts present them. Making a change accordingly – thanks, Adam – would suggest £5-6m rather than £8-9m.

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