Football: Spend to Survive Not an Option for Owls

By Spellman, Damian | The Independent (London, England), October 19, 2001 | Go to article overview
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Football: Spend to Survive Not an Option for Owls

Spellman, Damian, The Independent (London, England)

CITY ANALYSTS are warning Sheffield Wednesday supporters of tough times ahead. The departure of the manager, Peter Shreeves, on Wednesday brought a fresh crisis to the club. It was on a high a few years ago, finishing seventh in the Premiership, but now it has debts of pounds 16m.

Owls supporters are desperate for cash to be ploughed in on the playing side, but recent forays into the transfer market to secure expensive imports such as Paolo di Canio, Benito Carbone, Gilles de Bilde and Wim Jonk among others, have not brought the hoped-for return.

Now a football analyst, Andrew Lee, of Dresdner Kleinwort Benson, is warning that further spending in a bid to get out of trouble could prove disastrous. "It's a no-win situation really," he said. "If you were to get independent financial advisors in there, the commercial proposition would be to cut costs, be realistic about what you can achieve, settle for mid-table and hope you can make a reasonable margin.

"But that's not going to happen because football clubs are not run like that. It's a vicious circle as far as the lower clubs are concerned, and there's no real solution to it."

Wednesday's fate - they only slipped out of the top flight at the end of the 1999-2000 season - should serve as a lesson to those top- flight clubs who will eventually make the drop this season, and there is an argument for them to spend money to save themselves.

"Because the difference in revenues between the Premiership and the Nationwide League is so great, they're again in a kind of no- win situation," Lee said. "If you make the drop, you've got to return the Premiership immediately, otherwise you face long-term hardship unless you are prepared to settle for mid-table, and they're not going to settle for that.

"You're faced with two options: spend heavily to try to stay in the Premiership, or go down and try to rebuild. But then you're among maybe nine clubs fighting for three promotion places and six of them are going to fail.

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