Lambert says he ‘hasn’t spent any money’ – but Ipswich Town’s budget will still be big by League One standards
PUBLISHED: 06:00 10 July 2019 | UPDATED: 09:44 10 July 2019
Ipswich Town boss Paul Lambert says the club’s League One expectations should be tempered due to his limited funds. STUART WATSON looks at how the Blues’ budget will compare to others in the division.
EDUCATED GUESS WORK
The most recent sets of accounts available are for 2017/18. The Blues' wage bill was £18.5m back then. The cut-off for that financial period was just after Adam Webster's sale to Bristol City, but before the bulk of Paul Hurst's summer transfer dealings.
We can take an educated guess of where Town's budget is now at based on the events of the last year.
High earners such as David McGoldrick, Martyn Waghorn and Joe Garner were replaced by several lower league recruits last summer - a significant drop in wages.
But you also have to take into account that Bartosz Bialkowski was handed a bumper new contract and that, over the course of two transfer windows, Town signed a total of 19 players. The cumulative cost of that won't have been cheap.
Town's wage bill has been steadily on the rise in recent years. For the recent relegation season, it may have stayed roughly the same or even dropped slightly (compound by others spending more around them).
We'll find out for sure around December time.
The players' wage bill will have been virtually halved overnight thanks to the vast majority of contracts containing relegation reduction clauses in the region of 40-50%.
Then you have to take into account that a bloated squad has been vastly reduced due to the fact that six loan deals expired and seven senior players were released. Just three - James Norwood, Tomas Holy and Adam Przybek - have arrived.
There are 35 professionally contracted players at the club, though a third of those will be on money that reflects their youth/reserves status.
Highly competitive contracts were put together to land Norwood and Alan Judge, given both would have had Championship interest.
Even with wage cuts, the likes of Bialkowski, Luke Chambers, Cole Skuse, Freddie Sears and Emyr Huws will still be on very good money for this level.
Top earners will be on around £5,000 to £7,000 a week, a bit more in Bialkowski's case.
HOW IT COMPARES
So, let's say, taking an educated guess, that Town's wage bill is somewhere in the region of £5-8m.
How does that compare to what League One clubs declared for 2017/18?
Blackburn and Wigan went straight back up, automatically, with the two biggest wage bills in the division - £16.77m and £11.74m respectively.
The next biggest spenders in terms of wages - Charlton (£10.2m), Scunthorpe (£6.38m) and Rotherham (£6.31m) - finished sixth, fifth and fourth.
There was, therefore, a direct correlation between wage bill - the true mark of budget in football ahead of transfer fees - and league position.
Paul Hurst's Shrewsbury were the exception to the rule, finishing third with a mid-table wage bill of £3.77m.
Yes, Town haven't spent a penny on transfer fees so far this summer - but very few clubs do at League One level.
In 2017/18, only two clubs - Wigan and Peterborough - spent in excess of £1m on players.
This Blues squad cost around £5.3m to assemble, with fees paid for Kayden Jackson (£1.6m), Toto Nsiala, Jon Nolan (£2m combined), Gwion Edwards (£750k), Janoi Donacien (£750k) Freddie Sears (£100k) and Danny Rowe (£100k).
For comparison, in 2017/18, Charlton and Wigan had the biggest gross squad costs at £7.1m and £7m respectively. The next biggest was Blackburn's at £3.4m.
It's highly probable that only Sunderland will be spending more on wages than Ipswich Town in League One this coming campaign, while Portsmouth, Rotherham and Peterborough will also have competitive budgets.
There is a reason those five clubs are way out ahead of the rest in terms of bookies' odds.
The gulf between the biggest and smallest budgets will be vast.
Town will be getting income from crowds averaging, at the very least, around 14,000. For perspective, 11 clubs in the division had attendances of 7,000 or less last season.
Newly-relegated Bolton and newly-promoted Bury have seen their squads decimated due to crippling financial problems and both are set to start the season with 12-point deductions.
Town have spent so long battling the odds in the Championship, with so many of their rivals benefitting from parachute payments and short-term throws of the dice by mega rich owners.
Now, in League One, they are very much back in the 'haves' rather than 'have nots' camp.
* Other clubs' 17/18 figures based on work of football finance expert Kieran Maguire (@KieranMaguire).