'A stronger position' - Finance expert's predictions for Leeds United's summer transfer window and 20/21 accounts
They will need to be shrewd, but newly-promoted Leeds United head into an ‘ideal’ summer transfer window in a stronger position than some of their more established Premier League rivals.
Football finance lecturer and author Kieran Maguire believes the Whites will be no different from any club in needing to drive hard bargains in their wheeling and dealing, but having just started to pay Premier League wages and operating with a smallish squad as per Marcelo Bielsa’s preference, stands them in better stead that others in the top flight.
And the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on football finances across the globe mean they might be able to get more bang for their buck yet again in the transfer window.
Last summer Victor Orta managed to prise Raphinha from Rennes for just £17m, a Brazilian winger now worth much more than that. He also took German international defender Robin Koch from SC Freiburg for £13m and Spanish national team centre-half Diego Llorente from Real Sociedad for around £20m.
Maguire anticipates similar possibilities this summer, when Leeds will also likely say goodbye to a small number of players.
Gjanni Alioski is yet to sign the new deal on the table and has been heavily and repeatedly linked with a move to Galatasaray, while Pablo Hernandez has started just two Premier League games and at 35 might hanker after a move back to Spain and a reunion with his young family.
Whether or not Alioski departs, a new left-back is considered priority number one at Elland Road and they have another couple of positions that need strengthening.
“Like all clubs they’ll have to do a bit of horse trading,” said Maguire.
“But it’s actually, for a club such as Leeds, an ideal summer window because prices are deflated. For £50m instead of getting two players you’ll be able to get three of the calibre I think they’re looking for.
“For clubs who have been promoted to the Premier League in the last year or two, they’re in a stronger position than some of the more established ones who have got players on Premier League contracts.
“At my club Brighton we’ve got some players we don’t want, but with two years left on their deals and no-one else offering to pay them £40k a week they’re going to stick around. So Leeds are actually in a stronger position than those who have been in the Premier League for a few years longer.
“They won’t be in quite the same position.”
The club’s accounts were released on Sunday morning and showed a £68m loss, with the heavy cost of promotion laid bare in a vastly increased wage bill and bonuses amounting to £20m.
It was also revealed that staying in the top flight will cost the club in the region of £30m in further player and management bonuses.
That won’t be the only significant financial hit taken by the Whites in their 2020/21 accounts, but while Maguire doesn’t expect good financial results this time next year, he sees positive factors in the club’s favour.
“First of all there’s the TV money that will make a huge difference,” he said.
“Finishing ninth to 11th is going to make a huge difference.
“They will have lost around about £20m from the lack of matchday ticket sales, so whatever the results are you can add that on.
“They will also have suffered a bit because of the way the Premier League is dealing with the rebates in respect of the broadcasters – Sheffield United in their accounts said it was £8.7m.
“There will be a few hits, we’ve lost the Chinese TV deal, so they won’t be good results financially but the fact that the 49ers have come in means there is strength in the balance sheet to deal with that.
“They didn’t go overboard in terms of spending money for recruitment and they’ve got a fairly solid wage budget – they don’t go down the Palace route of paying three players over £100k a week and the rest substantially less.
“All of those things will be in their favour and merchandise sales will be amazing. Everyone will want the first year back in the Premier League kit.”
The 19/20 accounts showed what Maguire deemed an ‘astounding’ £15m from merchandise and a total of £54m in revenue as a Championship club. Elland Road chiefs will be hoping to harness the power and allure of the Premier League in order to boost those numbers further and help mitigate the cost of retaining top flight status and building for the next stage in Andrea Radrizzani and the 49ers grand plan.