Much talk about money

A lot of recent comment about our club has surrounded our finances, which is only to be expected following the recent publication of the 2005-06 accounts.

A lot of recent comment about our club has surrounded our finances, which is only to be expected following the recent publication of the 2005-06 accounts.

I know that a lot of people were surprised to learn that our wage bill is £9m a year, considering it was £11m a year when we were in the Premiership. And while our £9m-a-year squad are sitting halfway down the Championship, Sheffield United are spending no more than us on their Premiership adventures this season and - at the time of writing, at least - they are outside the bottom three.

We have got used to being compared with clubs such as Charlton, but perhaps we now need to start looking at clubs like Colchester to see how to do it.

That is a club that gets crowds of less than 6,000, yet they are playing out of their skin and are consequently higher than us in the league. And it just goes to show - as if we ever needed reminding - that it's not the amount that you pay your players that determines your success.


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Another aspect of the accounts that has caused much debate is the level of our debt. The figures include £10m for the building and fit-out of the Jarrold Stand, and £3.5m for the infill between the Jarrold Stand and the River End. What must be remembered is that the building of the new stand was not optional. The old South Stand had been condemned and needed replacing, and this investment will benefit the club in the long-term.

Although his name is still mud in many people's opinion, we must never forget the legacy of Robert Chase. Where he came unstuck was with his obsession with getting the finances right, developing the ground, and investing in that team - and never deviating from that very strict sequence of events, even when a more flexible approach was required.

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With our massive wage bill coupled with our recent infrastructure investment, it's clear that our current board has the foresight not to be tied so rigidly to such a dogmatic approach.

But we must never take our eye off the ball. Just look what happened at Ipswich when their spend, spend, spend approach came home to roost. Even worse, look how Bradford's massive wage bill ultimately saw them disappear almost into oblivion.

We look forward to next month's annual meeting, which promises to be a fascinating affair.

This year's Canary Challenge promises to be the closest ever. That is because this year's Championship is so open, with no team running away at the top of the league. Any team can put a run together and get into the top six. Similarly, there are various teams that could find themselves in the bottom three at some point this season.

Don't forget to check your Canary Challenge standings ever week in the Pink Un, or visit the NCISA website at www.ncisa.co.uk

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