Everyone wants the money but you can’t always have the money.
– Brendan Rodgers, 16th August 2012.
As the rich get richer the poor certainly get poorer in the English Premier League. Chelsea and Manchester City are just two examples of how a wealthy owner can splash the cash to gain an advantage on and off the field. But there are other ways that clubs can be successful without spending beyond their means to try to compete with the super rich. Long term planning can be gruelling and frustrating in the short term but pays dividends and provides essential stability.
Step 1: Choose your manager and stick by him through thick and thin.
In the modern game manager’s themselves can command a huge fee just like the players they coach. Therefore it makes sense to bring in a manager cheaply and stick by him in order to avoid shelling out huge fees in compensation and replacements. A big thumbs up here goes to Tottenham chairman Daniel Levy who secured Andre Villas-Boas for free this summer only a year after Chelsea paid out around £13M for his services. His astonishing record breaking stint at Porto proves he can be a successful manager and his time at Chelsea shouldn’t be judged too harshly considering the high turnover of managers at the club. If anything that failure should be a useful learning curve as Villas-Boas prepares for his second spell in the Premier League. An honorary mention goes to Dave Whelan at Wigan who has continually backed Roberto Martinez and his style of play despite flirting with relegation for a number of seasons, not an unusual scenario for a club the size of Wigan.
Step 2: Become self-sufficient
With UEFA implementing Financial Fair Play into the European Leagues it has been mooted that similar measures may be on its way in the league. However this surely should be common sense to balance the books correctly to ensure the survival of a football club. The example of Portsmouth who begin this season in the third tier of English football, that is if they don’t go into liquidation beforehand, should be a stark reminder of the dangers of not keeping finances in check. Arsene Wenger at Arsenal has set out the perfect template and has managed to qualify in the Champions League places every season despite not having the riches of other clubs. This ensures Arsenal carry on making the money to turn over a profit, and have a long term plan in place to pay off the debts incurred by the building of the Emirates Stadium which itself will help to bring in more money.
Step 3: The Academy: Grow your own players!
The academy should be the heartbeat of every football club on a budget. By making steady investment into the club’s academy this will serve to produce players ready for the first team to use as part of the squad – a much better alternative than bringing in an experienced player on higher wages to fill up the squad. Even if the player impresses enough to attract bids from bigger clubs then that money can be used to further improve the first team or balance the books further. Everton’s academy is one of many successful academy’s in the Premier League. In recent years Everton have sold graduates Wayne Rooney in the region of £25M, and this summer have sold Jack Rodwell for an overall £15M. And with further graduates such as Ross Barkley breaking through, Everton have the extra money and the players to ensure their long term survival and prosperity.