July 2017
Sitting here at my keyboard, it sounds like there's the brooding tune and tone being played by a colliery brass band throughout this post. Everything I anticipate writing, especially over the next few paragraphs, seems to point to my perceived inequality of a system which is broken, but accepted by many.

The situation

Any TV money is only a small chunk of the revenue that any Championship club will receive this season. The EFL do not hand out prize money based on positions. This means that any team competing will receive a flat amount of money,  whether you are on course for automatic promotion or certain relegation.

Every club receives the same ‘basic award’ of £2.084 million. This reflects the EFL giving an equal share of the TV deal negotiated with Sky to broadcast Championship games to every club in the division, regardless of where they finish. The EFL also give every club in the Championship a £4.3million ‘solidarity payment’. The money is donated by the Premier League to ensure the gap from the second tier to top flight does not expand any further.

My issue
Despite their marketing, last season Sky demonstrated that it was mainly concerned with a narrow proportion of teams who were plying their trade in the Championship. Frequent appearances were made by Newcastle United, Aston Villa, Brighton & Hove Albion, Leeds United and Sheffield Wednesday on their "showpiece" slots.

How can that be representative of a diverse and unpredictable division? Consider this; Championship clubs are awarded £100,000 for every home game broadcast on Sky, while they are given a £10,000 bonus for away clashes on the box. It means that clubs like Aston Villa received the following last season;
  • Basic award: £2.084m (received by all Championship clubs)
  • Solidarity payment: £4.3m (received by all Championship clubs)
  • Money for being on TV: £520,000
  • Total: £6.9m
Yet parachute payments still equalled an estimated £40million for Villa, in the first year after their relegation from the Premier League

Supporters are constantly being asked to spend more of their time travelling on the road, to meet the broadcasters' needs at ridiculous times. But my overriding issue is simply this. If Sky need the weight of the 'bigger clubs' to support the marketing of football on their network, let's make it a bit more even. Why should they have their games consistently televised and at their home ground and gain the greatest share of the revenue available?

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The evidence

Of the games already scheduled, from 4 August to 1 October 2017; Sheffield Wednesday will have already accumulated three home games and £300k into the bargain, before the rest of the league has even reached Halloween. Villa, appear twice at home and twice away, picking up a smart £240k.
By comparison, Barnsley will appear at home once,  worth £100k.

The impact

Whilst my imaginary colliery band continue to play, I realise I can be myopic at times. But when you consider the cost of ground improvements, scoreboards, academies and general expenses that all clubs have to find cash for every season - the sums here are 'small change' to the marketing machines of the 'City' clubs. A revolution in the share of TV revenue and a new strategy would transform the football experience for the less well off. Why can't Sky see this?

The wealthy clubs will always carry their weight in negotiations. It's about who shouts the loudest and the threat they carry if they are not being heard. Maybe a responsible broadcaster will eventually balance the needs of their advertising partners, along with the standards of fair competition and opportunity for all.

It might be a crazy concept folks, but why can't they simply televise and promote a sporting competition involving all, without favour? Even if they hated that concept, it could be far more gladatorial, by pitting the richest team (away) versus the media pundit's underdog at home. Surely this would be far more mouthwatering and truly representative of what the Championship is all about?

The irony

The EFL have rejected a one-year extension on their agreement with Sky and now their rivals, BT Sport, are prepared to outbid them.  BT Sport will now look to add the Sky Bet Football League, Capital One Cup and Johnstone’s Paint Trophy to their portfolio of sport. With any new deal likely to start at the beginning of the 2019/20 season.

Despite all of these commercial moves, does anybody feel this will make any difference? We would love to see your comments (below) and invite you to join the Super Reds debate, here On The Ponty End!
Perhaps it is already known that the ‘Profitability and Sustainability’ rules started operating in the Championship from 2016/17 season; where clubs would be assessed over three seasons (rather than just a single season). But what does it really mean?

These were the key changes:

  • The assessment is carried out in March (rather than December, as it was previously).
  • The maximum loss limit is now £13m per Championship season, or £5m a season if the owner does not inject equity into the club, to cover losses.
  • Losses are now assessed over three seasons, rather than just over a single (previous season).
    The appraisal of each club’s finances is a combination of a significant assessment of a clubs fiscal performance, over the last two seasons and includes a financial projection for the season ahead.
  • All of this information has to be with the Football League by the 1 March.
The Football League aim to adjudicate and punish before the end of the any season.

That said, there must be many clubs that are flying close to the wind, despite the "clear" rules.

What happens if any football league club breaks their ceiling for losses?

Any punishment for a breach of the rules is apparently determined by an independent panel (the ‘Fair Play Panel’). But what are the potential punishments?

Previously the Football League has only been able to either fine promoted clubs (a fine the Premier League didn’t help them collect), or impose a transfer embargo for historic overspending. With this change, a wide range of punishments are now available.

Respected FFP writer Ed Thompson has stated that “nothing is off the table” and that points to deductions for the ongoing season as an option. Should this be a reality, the Football League are now able to impose a points deduction during the current season, or demote a club from an automatic promotion position into the play-offs (or out of the play-offs altogether).

Transfer embargoes are also available (with the earliest one potentially applying during the Summer 2017 transfer window). That said, I can't see any evidence of this particular pressure on clubs, who are clearly gambling, on their potential return or rise to the Premier League.

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Let's do the sums though

According to UEFA.com; If a club's owner injects money into the club through a sponsorship deal with a company to which he is related, then UEFA's competent bodies will investigate and, if necessary, adapt the calculations of the break-even result for the sponsorship revenues to the level which is appropriate ('fair value') according to market prices. Under the updated regulations, any entity that, alone or in aggregate together with other entities which are linked to the same owner or government, represent more than 30% of the club's total revenues is automatically considered a related party.

This sounds complicated, not least because "fair value" and "relationships" are very fluid subjects. For example, could Lacatoni or Elev8, companies who do not trade or sell a single product in the UK market, ever be considered as a bone fide partners or sponsors? If you're from S6, it doesn't matter. Not least, when you consider that Carlos Carvahal is a part shareholder in Lacatoni, the Manager of Sheffield Wednesday and potentially the beneficiary of an owner's income and influence.

Perhaps it is reasonable to suggest that settling your price and covering your potential costs might also accelerate your ability to invest in your playing talent? Hands up, this is not a fact, but surely ought to be a subject for further exploration. Transparency. Please!

Solidarity payments

A lot has been said about solidarity payments, the so called "parachute money" that clubs benefit from, when they fall from grace into the Championship. It is claimed that winning promotion within two years is crucial to Middlesbrough Football Club. There are many more clubs who haven’t done so and are now struggling.

Will the Football League act?

Rúben Neves; FC Porto > Wolverhampton Wanderers: £15.22m
Britt Assombalonga; Nottingham Forrest > Middlesbrough: £14.45m
Jordan Rhodes; Middlesbrough > Sheffield Wednesday: £9.95m

These examples are the tip of the iceberg. Some clubs might claim an increase in marketing opportunities, gained through their paternal fuck-wit fiscal owners, Pucka Pies and shirt sales can never satiate the salaries and expenditure that these deals will inevitably serve on a profit and loss spreadsheet.

The Reds

Despite the alleged "inflexible purse strings" at Oakwell, I'm definitely in favour of our strategy. FFP might not be the answer for #TeamsLikeBarnsley. The playing field will not be levelled today. Prudent purchases and coaching ability really do hold the keys to our fortune ahead.

Whether FFP actually stands for Financial Fair Play is debatable. Be free to make up your own terms for this acronym. Financial fuckery personified is probably here to stay.

In a world that is ever more unpredictable and financially uncertain, there will always be those that are seeking a reasonable guarantee from their financial muscle and a fast return on the investment they make. New talent, new heroes and our new season are definitely off their radar at the moment.
Let's get behind the lads and make 2017/18 more than just a year of the underdog. Let's lift our club up and prove that when it's all spent, it remains and will always be a game of 11 versus 11.
Considered by some to be one of the most successful investors in the world, Warren Buffett is an American business magnate, investor and philanthropist, who was once famously quoted as saying, "Price is what you pay. Value is what you get."

It's a quote that implies that price and value are not always one and the same to a buyer. Perhaps we should also consider that when you apply this logic to the business of transfer deals in English football, it should also point to the responsibility of any selling party to carefully consider the flip side of this argument.

Can the revenue generated by clubs in player sales, truly compensate them for the loss of the intrinsic value of their player? How might football clubs calculate the price of any outgoing players? With the constant speculation surrounding the departure of yet another Oakwell gem, surely it's about time we address this. We really need to talk about Andy.

We don't have access to any fabled spreadsheet, that automatically generates the value of every squad member. But if we did, we would suggest that the following nine considerations would be taken into account for any formula.

1. Squad status
With 32 games to his name, Yiadom would have almost been an ever present during the Reds return to the Championship. A staccato presence in the new year, his season was only halted briefly by minor injury and his departure to the African Cup of Nations.

2. Age

Just 25 years old. Yiadom has his best football in front of him.

3. Talent
It's always a matter for debate. How do you measure performances long term? If you consider that Andy Yiadom made 33 appearance in his debut season, with three assists to his name, does that make him one of our most valued assets? According to WhoScored.com, he was the best performing right back in the Championship last season.

4. Versatility

Well known for his prowess at right back (118 career appearances), our Andy has also played right midfield (46 career appearances), left back (21 career appearances), plus centre, left and defensive midfield roles when called upon.

5. League factor

Let's be fair, even in The Championship, Barnsley does not get the credit it deserves. Especially in an era where former Premier League teams are essentially operating with budgets that would make the eyes water of many a Serie A, Bundesliga and La Liga owner, it's a crying shame that any talent is stalked for a pittance out of Oakwell. Alfie Mawson (sold for a reported £5m, becomes a price tagged £17m player in just 12 months). John Stones serves a 12-year apprenticeship at Barnsley and escalates from a value of just £2.98m when sold to Everton, to a player valued at £47.26m by Manchester City - in just 3-and-a-half further years.

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6. International Caps

Yiadom has just a couple of caps to his name. It's not bad though, for a player who made his debut for the 'Black Stars' at the Africa Cup of Nations in 2017, where Ghana were placed in a very respectable fourth place.

7. Adaptability

Its a perennial issue with players arriving in the Premiership. Can they adapt? Again there's no guarantee if any individual can blossom in England's top flight, but the risks are seriously reduced when a player has amassed over 239 domestic appearances. Andy Yiadom is built for the frenetic pace and rigour of the English game. If anything, his progression has been relatively easy.

8. Leadership

In 177 appearances at Barnet, Yiadom was considered as the consummate leader and held the captain's armband at The Hive Stadium. Martin Allen, his former boss, was always of the opinion that Yiadom was destined for 'bigger and better things'. Should he remain, the Players' Player of the Season winner would definitely be a favourite candidate to hold the captain's armband for the 2017/18 season and beyond.

9. Contract status
This is always our achilles heal. Although Yiadom signed on a free transfer from Barnet, the club's hierarchy felt that any initial offer was only deserving of a two-year contract. It's a painful issue for our management team who have lost the the core members of a team who would have undoubtedly helped the Reds challenge for a top six place.  Namely, Watkins, Bree, Hourihane, Scowen, Roberts and even Winnall. Now is the time to put the brakes on this weak policy.

Don’t forget you can follow us on Twitter @OnThePontyEnd. Please comment below with your opinion on Barnsley's current policy on outgoing transfers Thanks for reading!