Derek McInnes targets value for money in his January transfer signings for Bristol City
BRISTOL City boss Derek McInnes has been told any signings he makes in January must represent value for money.
Eager to avoid some of the mistakes made by previous managers, City's board of directors have conducted a thorough overhaul of the club's recruitment policy.
Under pressure to balance the books after announcing a club-record annual loss of £14.4 million and determined to satisfy the requirements of Financial Fair Play, which come into force next season, City's board are far less likely to sanction big-money signings and expensive long-term contracts than previously.
Instead, they are formulating an alternative policy which involves improving the club's scouting network and providing further investment in the academy.
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City are £41m in debt and paying the price for expensive signings made by previous managers Gary Johnson and Steve Coppell.
Backed by majority shareholder Steve Lansdown, both offered long-term contracts and big wages in a bid to bring Premier League football to Ashton Gate.
But promotion eluded both of them and, having lived beyond their means for too long, City are now required to tighten their belts.
And that means McInnes will have to work within tight financial constraints when the January transfer window opens three weeks from now.
"We are well aware that, no matter how well you are doing on the pitch or commercially, it only takes a couple of mistakes at recruitment level to really impact on you financially," said McInnes.
"The Financial Fair Play situation is really going to hit home and hit hard next season and we have to make sure we recruit well. The penalties (for non-compliance) come in after next season and we are trying to cut our cloth accordingly.
"The club want to go down a way of recruitment which, in the long-term, they think will be of benefit to us.
"It is still in it's early stages, but we are trying to implement it. We are not at a level we want to be yet.
"Although there is always an element of risk to it, hopefully our recruitment policy will minimise that.
"When it comes to recruitment, we cannot make the same mistakes that have been made in the past.
"That makes it even more important to identify young talent and recruit the right players. That's why it is important we have continued investment in the academy."
Robins director Jon Lansdown insists the board and manager must do their homework thoroughly before committing to new signings in future.
He said: "It is a matter of doing your due diligence. That means identifying players who are the right fit and the business end of that is the scouting network.
"We have new scouts in place and are looking to increase that number in the near future to cover as big an area as possible. This is an area that needed improving. It is something you build over time and it is already building."
He added: "There are players out there who can improve you that are not always obvious. The important thing is to find the right fit in every aspect – in terms of personality, ability and age.
"It is extremely important we identify the right ones and make as few mistakes as possible.
"You are talking about a decent amount of money every time you sign someone. In any other walk of life when you are spending that sort of money, you have to do your due diligence.
"That is the cold reality behind it and we need to make sure are the best we can be when it comes to recruitment to get an advantage."