Bristol City chief Colin Sexstone hands out warning over contracts
BRISTOL City chairman Colin Sexstone has warned players and agents they will have to become more realistic when negotiating contracts in future.
Although City are enjoying a revival in the Championship under new manager Derek McInnes, things are not so rosy off the pitch after the club’s annual financial report revealed losses of £11.4 million for the year ended May 31, 2010.
In an exclusive interview with the Evening Post, Sexstone spoke openly of the urgent requirement to bring a spiralling wage bill under control and urges fellow Championship clubs to adopt the UEFA Financial Fair Play regulations.
European football’s governing body is seeking to impose new financial disciplines upon clubs in an attempt to curb rising transfer fees, player salaries and other outgoings that are endangering the game.
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A phased implementation period will be undertaken over three years, and the main component of the regulations – the ‘break-even’ requirement – will come into force for financial statements in the reporting period ending 2012, to be assessed during the 2013-14 season.
Initial sanctions against clubs who do not fulfil the break-even requirement can be taken in the 2013-14 season, on the basis of financial information from the two previous campaigns.
Under the break-even requirement, clubs may not spend more than the income they generate. Clubs will also be assessed on a risk basis, in which debt and salary levels are taken into consideration. They will have to ensure that liabilities are paid in a punctual manner.
The regulations and criteria laid down are also designed to help stimulate long-term planning for areas such as youth development and upgrading sports installations.”
Sexstone attended a meeting of Championship representatives in Coventry yesterday to discuss the implementation of the new regulations and he believes agreement must be reached between the clubs if spending is to return to sustainable levels.
“The implementation of the UEFA Financial Fair Play regulations, probably next season, will be crucial,” said Sexstone.
“Of course, they cannot be expected to solve all of our problems straight away, far from it. But they will mean the start of a regime that will at least try to impose some control on wages.
“I’m sure that most clubs will be able to meet the requirements and there will be sanctions, most likely in the form of a transfer embargo, slapped on those who don’t comply.
“There will be no penalties in 2013-14, because they are looking to make 2012-13 a trial season only. Thereafter, penalties will apply and clubs will have to come into line or risk a transfer embargo in January 2014.
“We want to run with a smaller squad and I don’t see us having a problem with implementing the new regulations. But players and agents have got to be sensible with their demands and therein lies the test for the clubs.”
Because of the immense disparity in wealth among Championship clubs, the English second tier has yet to reach agreement on how best to implement the new regulations, which have already been accepted by clubs in League One and League Two.
Sexstone said: “It becomes difficult in the Championship when you have clubs coming down from the Premier League with more money than the rest of us. That inevitably has a knock-on effect.
“It only takes one club to start spending a lot of money and it has a spiralling effect. That has a ripple effect on every other club, because players elsewhere then expect the same kind of money. That is what we have to break down and it will take three or four years.”
But City cannot afford to wait that long and will seek to put their own house in order, starting at the end of this season when 50 per cent of the first-team squad is out of contract.
“We at Bristol City cannot wait that long – we need to start putting our house in order now,” said Sexstone.
“In the event that agreement cannot be reached among Championship clubs, we will have to act independently to bring our wage bill down. We have to get wages down to a sensible level.”
City defender Lewin Nyatanga is a major doubt for Saturday’s npower Championship game against Middlesbrough at Ashton Gate.
The Wales international centre-back limped out of Tuesday’s 2-2 draw at Watford with a knee injury and has been unable to train since.
Half-season tickets go on sale to Bristol City fans from today. Prices start from £159.