As a result of yet another lacklustre result, the curriculum vitae of both Scott Parker and Tony Khan are now marred with the two Premier League relegations. Something must change for Fulham to build a stable project, But, what does relegation mean and how should the club prepare for yet another season in the second division?
In a previous article that analysed Fulham’s financial accounts for the previous Premier League season, it was abundantly clear of the consequences of dropping into the second tier. Should these same trends reoccur, which they most likely will, here is a summary of what could happen:
- Revenue streams drop by around £100 million, with a reduction in broadcast revenue of around £80 million and a halving of commercial revenues.
- Normally, decreased attendances and lower ticket prices lead to lower matchday revenue. However, the club can expect around £7 million in matchday revenues should we should begin to see supporters re-integrated into stadiums next season.
- To help plug the gap, the club will receive parachute payments of £45 million for the first season and £35 in the second in the Championship.
However, the club must avoid making a loss of more than £61 million between 2019/20 and 2021/22. Whilst the accounts have not yet been released for the 2019/20 season, the two main costs for football clubs are wage costs and amortised transfer fees. Even though we don’t know the side’s wage costs, Fulham’s costs in 2018/19 were a whopping £92.6 million. This may have been even higher this season with the only recent sales of note being Ryan Sessegnon and Ryan Babel whilst the club has loaned multiple high earners, including Areola and Andersen.
Thus, whilst all senior players reportedly have wage reduction clauses, it is known that the Whites had by far the largest wage costs in the Championship last season, which may be a problem when considering that my calculations put the current team’s amortised transfer cost at a mind-blowing total of £119.34 million over next year’s three-season FFP period, prior to any further spending.
The EFL have relaxed their FFP rules to help clubs deal with the impact of the pandemic, allowing clubs to write off “COVID-19 costs” as per appendix five. This has been adjusted and defines COVID-9 costs as “lost revenues and/or exceptional costs incurred by a Club that are directly attributable to the COVID-19 pandemic and that are identified and calculated in accordance with such guidance as issued by the Board“. However, the amount that Fulham could write off is unclear. UEFA have also considered tearing up their FFP regulations, although there are no concrete plans or proposals as of yet.
Therefore, to help balance the books, we may see the board shift a hoard of players. Here are some deals we may see:
- Most, if not all of the loanees would leave, shifting hundreds of thousands per week off Fulham’s balance sheet.
- Bettinelli, Ream, McDonald, Christie, Fabricio and S. Sessgenon all have contracts expiring at the end of 2020/21, although some may yet be extended.
- Odoi and Kebano both enter the final year of their deals, as do Hector and Mawson, who could be sold for £2 million and £4 million to make an accounting profit.
- Johansen, who QPR have outlined their intention of signing, also enters his final year, as do Le Marchand and Seri – who the club may look to shift for as little as a combined £8 million to cover the remaining amortised cost.
- If sold for more than £10 million, the club would make an accounting profit on Mitrovic, who is reportedly unlikely to stay with Parker at the helm.
- If the £25 million to Everton rumour is true, the club would make an accounting profit of over £16 million on Anguissa.
- Other players, such as Tete and Reed have also been linked with moves away after cutting their teeth in the Premier League, although.
- Any profits made would crucially claw back some of Fulham’s FFP deficit, helping the club avoid punishment.
Whilst it is not certain what will happen this summer – with Parker’s “This squad won’t be the squad next year” comment resonating through fans’ heads – many expect those such as Anguissa to leave. Some are also calling for the club to sell Mitrovic, to start afresh and bring in a player more malleable to different systems and that can adapt to the speed of Premier League football. However, this is a big risk that could leave the club without a recognised goalscorer – and one that scored 26 goals in 2019/20. Selling Johansen could also be costly as he has proved on multiple occasions that he is more than capable at Championship level, especially as he could be a ready-made in-house replacement for Lemina and Anguissa.
But, this would leave big gaps within the ageing playing squad that would need to be filled with talented players at low cost. Fulham should look towards building a solid base for a long-term project – Parker hinted to the need for a recruitment overhaul, hitting the hard reset button to allow Fulham to progress. The ex-Tottenham man may be better placed than other managers for this, as his attachment to the club should offer more sway with the board. However, with Parker linked to both the Tottenham and England U21 vacancies, there is an opportunity for a fresh start – Howe Lennon or Wagner perhaps?
Whether Scott stays or not, the board should look to promote young starlets who are impressing in the various youth squads, such as Fabio Carvalho and Mika Biereth, whilst keeping ahold of the young talent the club already possesses, such as Steven Sessegnon. This is something that Peter Rutzler of the Athletic has echoed, saying “academy talents Sylvester Jasper, Tyrese Francois, Fabio Carvalho, George Wickens, Luca Ashby-Hammond and Jerome Opoku are all likely to be involved during pre-season. It is expected that breakthrough talent Carvalho will sign a long-term contract.“
These should be complemented by players in their peak years who are impressing in the English Football League, keeping costs low and building a sense of morale and togetherness – think Tottenham’s policy under Pochettinho. Otherwise, the other technique is to search Europe for their more affordable talent, with the club often shopping in Belgium and France. Whilst this can bring some hidden gems, it is also more likely to turf up some who aren’t quite up to scratch, such as the controversial Le Marchand and Seri deal.
Therefore, whilst we don’t know for certain who Tony Khan and the recruitment department is lining up, as their policy can appear somewhat scattergun at times, here are some players that the Whites have been linked to recently:
- Lyndon Dykes has scored 12 goals in 42 Championship games after transferring to QPR from Livingston for £2 million last summer. West Bromwich Albion and Burnley have also been recently linked to the Scottish striker, who is in contention for a Euros spot.
- Siriki Dembele handed Posh chairman Darragh MacAnthony, with whom Tony Khan had an argument on Twitter over the details of the Ivan Toney negotiations, a transfer request in January. The 24-year-old Ivorian has scored 12 goals in 44 matches and could be available on the cheap as he enters his final year of contract. However, Celtic, who have his younger brother Karamoko Dembele on their books, have also been linked to the versatile forward.
- Chelsea Academy graduate, Ike Ugbo, has spent the season on loan at Cercle Brugge, scoring 16 goals in 33 games in the process. The 22-year-old striker, who is of Nigerian descent, is linked to a whole host of other clubs too, including Monaco and Claudio Ranieri’s Sampdoria, for a deal in the region of £5 million.
- Josh Windass is an attacking midfielder, who can also play as a striker, that has scored 10 goals in 43 games for Sheffield Wednesday this season. The 27-year-old, who has also assisted 10 goals, maybe affordable given the Owl’s recent relegation. He also possesses an element of versatility that is sought after by Fulham’s recruitment department, so could fill in for Cairney at number 9 when injured as well as starting upfront.
- Sheffield United centre back Kean Bryan has also been linked to the Whites. The 24-year-old defender, a graduate of Manchester City’s academy, has made 15 appearances for the blades so far this season, scoring one goal. Therefore, Khan could be eyeing the defender as a replacement for loanee Joachim Andersen.
Who would you like to see be brought into the squad? And, what do you think of the manager situation?