Bristol City won't be held to ransom by football agents
BRISTOL City owner Steve Lansdown is refusing to bow to the demands of "greedy" football agents.
Lansdown may have stood down as Robins chairman last year, but he remains the club's majority shareholder and the man chiefly responsible for bankrolling new signings.
He met with manager Derek McInnes over the weekend to discuss player targets and has agreed to back City's boss as far as he can in the transfer market.
Having saved City from relegation last season, the Scot is determined to strengthen his squad during the summer in an attempt to avoid another year of struggle. But multi-millionaire businessman Lansdown, who made his fortune from financial services, insists he will not be held to ransom by agents who try to take advantage of his wealth.
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Lansdown admits he and his fellow directors have, on occasions, been "weak" when negotiating player contracts in the past, but insists the straitened circumstances many clubs find themselves in dictate a more cautious approach in future.
"Market forces will always dictate the terms of any deal, but I do feel we have to be stronger," said Lansdown.
"We have been a bit weak in the past with some of the deals we have done and I think we have to stick by our principles.
"If we offer a player a reasonably good wage, the chance to play football regularly and a good environment in which to do that, then it should be enough.
"If they think they can get a few bob extra elsewhere, then we have to be prepared to let them go irrespective of what the agents say or do.
"Agents can lose you a deal without a shadow of a doubt. They can be too greedy themselves or they can be too greedy for their players.
"We cannot afford to go along that line and we have to stick to what we can afford. If a player wants to come to us, then great. If not, then no."
City have made losses of close to £30 million in the past three years and it is clear the club is unable to compete financially with relatively cash-rich rivals who have recently been in the Premier League.
But Lansdown has told McInnes he is sympathetic to requests for new players and is prepared to back his manager wherever he feels it is reasonable to do so.
Lansdown, pictured, said: "My stance has always been that if the right player becomes available at the right price, then we will make the money available.
"That will continue to be the case unless the directors decide to do differently. My view is that, if you make available a set amount of money, one of two things will happen. Either that money will be spent whether it should be spent or not, or you will not spend more than that because that is all you have to spend.
"I don't think we should be put in that position. I think our recruitment policy should be to go and find the best players we possibly can and then see whether we can afford to move them in. If we can afford to move them in, then let's do that."
With many clubs reducing the size of their squads in order to bring wages under control, Lansdown believes managers will now have the upper hand when negotiating with players.
He said: "Football is in a parlous state and the game is full of clubs cutting their squads and reducing their overheads. We are no different.
"But that also means there will be a greater supply of players who are available and capable of coming in and doing a good job for us.
"A lot of work is going on and there are plenty of irons in the fire.
"As always, it a matter of making sure you can get the contracts sorted out.
"We would like to bring in three, four or five new players during the summer if we can."