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In the absence of owners such as Morris and Tan the only way we can hope to plug the inevitable gap between costs (mainly wages) and revenue is by making a substantial profit year-on-year on player trading. This shows tweet shows what is possible:
If we can match Brentford’s £14 million profit on player trading in 2017/18 (which is close to their average for the past few seasons) then that should put us on a sustainable long-term footing. Norwich’s staggering £48 profit (in the season before they won promotion of course) shows what is possible – although it would take something truly extraordinary for us to emulate that stunning performance.
What these tweets illustrate perfectly is the magnitude of the task in putting us back on a sustainable footing. However, with the correct model, the size of the challenge is not a barrier to success, as amply demonstrated by Brentford and Norwich.
Selling players on at a substantial overall profit is a matter of necessity for us as club. We simply have to sell far more in value terms than we bring in, by a margin in excess of £10 million a year – and that’s once we’ve plugged the current hole in the accounts. To achieve this we need two things above all else – a top level academy, and a top notch recruitment team. We already have the former – the challenge now is building the latter, to rectify the big failure of our Premier League tenure. Get this right and we can realistically challenge for promotion, playing the Swansea Way.
Important as the next managerial appointment is, I would say that the recruitment team we put together is every bit as important. If Birch’s statements are anything to go by then this is understood within the club. But understanding the requirements and implementing them are two very different things.
Comfortably A+. The idea that any half decent manager could have kept us up conveniently ignores the massive development we've seen in so many of our players under Potter's management. Grimes, James, Rodon, Roberts - to name but four have improved massively under Potter. Van De Hoorn's distribution in the Premier League was poor - under Potter he's improved this aspect of his play massively. When did VDH go on mazy runs in the Premier League?
Richards and Toshack have done a good job for sure, but I can't really say, watching the U23s, that I was confident that any of the regulars last season would make the grade at Championship level. That they have done so well, and shown clear signs of progression from the start of the season to its end (Grimes being the shining example) is largely down to Potter's influence.
Imagine if we'd kept Carvahal on as manager. I reckon we'd have been relegated, or struggled at best.
We are so lucky to have Potter. The big question for me is whether he has, in Kyle Macaulay, the right man to recruit budget signings from obscure European leagues to match what Norwich achieved under Stuart Webber. That, more than anything else, will determine how things go next season.
Although there is so much to be desired about the way the American owners have run the club, when you look at the big picture, the over-arching strategy of drastically reducing the clubs debt, is without a shadow of doubt the correct one. The context of the situation we find ourselves in is sobering. The average turnover of clubs in the Championship after taking out parachute payments in the season 2017/18 was around 10% of Premier League club revenues. Take a club like Villa, who will this season receive a Basic Award of £2.3 million from the EFL, £4.5 million solidarity payment from the Premier League and less than a million from being shown on the TV, unless they make the play-off final. So their income from external sources (i.e. excluding commercial revenue and matchday income) this season is likely to be in the region of £8 million. Even allowing for a 36% increase in TV revenue negotiated by the EFL for next season onwards Swansea’s likely external annual revenue once the parachute payments run out are likely to be less than £10 million. That compares with broadcast revenue of £104.6 million for last season. The need to slash the wage bill is clear as daylight. In fact, it’s hard to be confident that even once we’ve got all players on Premier League wages off the books that the wages paid to the youngsters who are being signed up to extended contract this season won’t exceed our income.
Most Championship clubs are run on debt – this is only sustainable where clubs have sugar daddy or mommy owners who are willing to forgive that debt by converting it to share capital or simply writing it off – as Al Hawasi – the previous Forest owners did with £40 million of loans when they sold the club (https://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/football/43319004 ). We do not have owners of that ilk, and I’m glad we don’t, so we face the formidable challenge of simply retaining our Championship status against competition that are operating outside of normal business practice, where profitability is the first and foremost objective.
The outlook is gloomy indeed. However, the new regulations on profitability, limiting losses of EFL clubs to £39 million over a rolling 3 year period, does offer some glimmer of hope to those clubs seeking to compete on a very unlevel playing field. Birmingham’s 9 points deduction this season will hopefully herald a much tougher approach to clubs that don’t live within their means, which should help matters (https://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/football/47667742).
Regardless, we will need to continue to bear down on costs – and accept that to ensure that we break even that we are a selling club. My best guess is that this means raising a net £15 million or so per season from player sales, to cover the £5 million running costs of the academy, as well as a loss on wages. As far as the end of this season is concerned not only will we need to see the departure of the Bony, Ayew’s, Baston and probably Fer we also need to brace ourselves for at least a couple of departures of our younger up-and-coming players. If we were to lose say James and Roberts, and the aforementioned Premier League pros perhaps we might realise £30 million. This could give us a kitty of about £10 million to re-invest in squad improvements. This wouldn’t be so different to what Norwich did, with the departure of Maddison and Pritchard (combined £34 million or so) helping to finance their modest acquisitions that have taken them to the brink of promotion.
If I have a beef with the American owners it’s not with their clear intention of running the club according to normal business principles, it’s rather the competence of their decisions. Their appointment of Bradley, and their management of the firesale in last two transfer windows has left a lot to be desired. However, the appointment of Potter was a masterstroke, and bringing in Birch was also a smart move. So, hopefully the personnel are now in place to improve the decision making on and off the pitch. If we do have to sell our hot properties, hopefully we will be able to do so at market value going forwards, rather than at knock-down prices - but the mood music around player sales will need to change if we are to get value for money. Less talk of drastic cuts and more of only selling if the price is right.
I’m actually pretty optimistic about Swansea’s long term future – but that depends on one thing above all else – our ability to keep Potter at the club. As long as we can manage that then I’m very confident that we’ll be fine – but balancing the books and simultaneously balancing Potter’s ambition will be a tricky act. The owners need to be clear and transparent with Potter and us fans if they expect us to buy into what may be a protracted process of getting us back onto an even keel.
There's some excellent goalkeeping stats over at #EFLSTATS: https://twitter.com/eflstats?lang=en
The stats for Mulder and Nordfeldt are:
Goals conceded per 90 minutes: 1.25 1.41
Clean sheet %age: 32% 25%
% of shots on target saved: 71% 55%
Pass success: 73% 84%
xG against - GC per 90 mins: ~+0.12 ~-0.33 (xG is expected goals, GC is goals conceded)
Nordfeldt's stat of 84% pass completion is the best in the division by 10 percentage points, ahead of Casilla of Leeds with 74%. Mulder's 73% is third best in the league. However, apart from this outstanding stat, Nordfeldt's stat of only 55% of shots on target saved is one of the lowest in the league, just about the lowest of those goalies who have played a significant number of minutes. Mulder's 71% is above average (which I'm roughly estimating to be in the lower 60s). With regards to expected goals minus goals actually conceded per 90 minutes, Nordfeldt's -0.33 (rough estimate from the graph shown) is amongst the lowest in the league, whereas Mulder's circa +0.12 is better than average.
Whilst the stats reflect the reason for Potter's preference for Nordfeldt over Mulder, they also don't lie when it comes to revealing Nordfeldt's fragility. He has 5 games to improve on what is a poor shot-stopping record otherwise Potter will have to re-appraise his priorities. I feel for Potter, because at his best Nordfeldt is a real asset to the team, and gives us the foundation for the style of play that Potter clearly wants us to adopt, building from the back. But he needs more strings to his bow, and he's making it very hard for Potter to persevere with him.
If it's any comfort to Potter it's reminiscent of Guardiola's tribulations with regards to Hart versus Caballero a few seasons ago: https://www.theguardian.com/football/2016/aug/13/pep-guardiola-joe-hart-dropped-willy-caballero-manchester-city Shame we won't be signing a goalkeeper of Ederson's standard to solve our goalkeeping woes. Having thought that Potter would stick with Nordfeldt over Mulder I now think those stats - unless Nordfeldt can turn things around in the games that remain - clearly point to Mulder being the better option.
Having watched the Brentford match on swanseacity.com I would say that James' performance was probably the best all-round performance from him. Apart from the precise low finish into the corner, and hitting the bar, the majority of his final third actions were on the money. If it weren't for profligate finishing he could easily have had a hat-trick of assists. Very encouraging.
It's very hard to know what level of training compensation Swansea could expect to receive should Dan James choose to run down his contract. The highest guaranteed compensation was the £6.5 million that Liverpool had to pay for Danny Ings' services, with further contingent payment of £1.5 million based on appearances and a 20% sell-on fee. Given that Ings was a proven Premier League player with Burnley it's doubtful we would be able to claim that level of compensation. Having said that, with a further season in the Championship he will probably have played over 80 games at senior level, and is likely to be a proven asset. If he continues to perform regularly at the current level I imagine Swansea could reasonably expect a payment of £3 million up front, with further payments on appearances and a generous sell-on cut. However, should be perform well for Wales in their qualifying campaign it's not unreasonable to think we could match the Ings fee - and were Wales to qualify for the Euro finals, with Dan catching the eye in the finals, I would expect an even bigger settlement. This article sets out the criteria for determining the surprisingly large settlement in the Ings case: https://www.lawinsport.com/topics/sports/item/determining-the-level-of-compensation-for-out-of-contract-football-players-the-fpcc-danny-ings-award
One thing's for sure, there's no reason at all for us to settle for anything less than £10 million for James' signature. Even if he leaves on at the end of his contract we get the benefit of an extra season from him - at a modest wage, as well as appreciable compensation. I think the club's negotiating position is fairly strong - although they will need to offer Dan a generous new contract to be able to claim a good level of compensation, as this is one of the criteria in determining the level of compensation.