Years of financial mis-management is starting to catch up with football clubs up and down the land as the Financial Fair Play penalties are forced into action.
Two of the latest ‘victims’ are Birmingham City and Bolton Wanderers, and while both appear to have been given a temporary stay of execution from further punishment it is perhaps just a matter of time before they are hit with transfer bans and – more pertinently for punters – points deductions.
The English Championship is governed by the rules of ‘Profitability and Sustainability’, with clubs assessed over a three-year period. Losses must not exceed £13m per season, and if they do the Fair Play Panel can impose penalties of significant fines, transfer embargoes (surely the horse has already bolted at this point?) and, in the worst cases, points deductions.
And that last point is why the betting community is salivating at the ongoing problems surrounding the Blues and the Trotters.
Historic Over-Spending Gives Monk the Blues
Birmingham’s financial woes are historic and systemic, with the Carson Yeung fiasco not aided by the employment of Harry Redknapp as manager.
As we know, old ‘Arry was not adverse to chucking huge sums of money at over-the-hill types, and it’s no coincidence that Brum follow two of his other former employers, Portsmouth and QPR, into the financial mire.
The implication is that the Blues are down to the bare bones fiscally, and they didn’t exactly help themselves when, under a transfer embargo in the summer, they still decided to sign Kristian Pedersen anyway.
The embargo stated that boss Gary Monk was only allowed to sign free transfers or loan players with wages under £10,000 per week; a rule broken with the £2m capture of Pedersen.
A disciplinary committee will meet imminently to discuss punishments, and a 12-point deduction has been mooted. Football finance lecturer Kieran Maguire told Birmingham Live that ‘….“it could be six points deducted and six points suspended for the 2019/2020 season – we don’t know because we are in uncharted waters with these regulations.”
Even a six-point drop could be devastating for Monk, with the Blues on just four points after six rounds of matches and outside the relegation zone on goal difference alone. They are just one of a trio of Championship sides yet to win this season.
Given turmoil on and off the pitch, their odds of 7/4 to be relegated this season look staggeringly generous.
Trotters On Their Heels As Doom Looms
Bolton Wanderers haven’t been quite as extravagant in the transfer market in the past few years at Birmingham, but they too have fallen on hard times.
They just about managed to pay off the £4m loan owed to their main creditor, BluMarble Capital, this week which prevented them from tumbling into administration; which brings with it points deductions, transfer bans and all the bad stuff.
That has given them a stay of execution, but the fans have turned on owner Ken Anderson for his financial fumblings, and there’s a general feeling of toxicity around the Lancashire club at present.
There could be further bad news on the horizon, with The Bolton News reporting a £13m funding gap – that could lead to significant player sales in January.
The Trotters may look rosy in the Championship table at present in eighth place, but the performance data suggests they have been rather ‘fortunate’ to amass eleven points thus far.
With possible problems ahead and an over-achieving – for how long? – side, the 9/4 on Bolton to return to League One looks fair game.