Sheffield United had the highest wage bill in League One last season, The Star can confirm.
Despite reports that eventual champions Wigan Athletic topped the payments list, the South Yorkshire club’s squad actually earned more, sources within the game have revealed.
The figures explain why United were so quick to part company with former manager Nigel Adkins earlier this month after he led them to their lowest league finish for over three decades. Co-owner Kevin McCabe criticised Bramall Lane’s recent transfer policy when Chris Wilder, previously of Northampton Town, was unveiled as the 51-year-old successor 10 days ago.
Although the exact figures remain unknown, United’s salary and player expenditure costs during Adkins’ sole campaign in charge are thought to have topped the £6m mark; nearly three times the divisional average.
McCabe informed Adkins his tenure was being ended three days after a 2-0 defeat by Scunthorpe saw United slip to 11th in the table. That set-back, combined with the fact that second-placed Burton Albion accumulated 19 more points despite operating on a significantly lower budget, set in motion the chain of events which culminated in Wilder being appointed on May 12.
“It was a decision taken very close to the final game of the season, when we had to move quickly,” McCabe said. “The season had only just ended when the final decision was made.
“If we decided, regrettably, that Nigel must go then I have to bring my colleagues together, because it is a co-ownership, and then see what we can do. We had some very tasty names but one was obvious to me.”
Although his fellow shareholder HRH Prince Abdullah Bin Mosaad Abdulaziz Al Saud backed Wilder’s arrival, McCabe is known to have been instrumental in negotiating his release from Sixfields where he won the League Two title last term.
Wilder, a United supporter and former player, pledged to deliver value for money after accepting his “dream job.”
“There’s no reason why we should pay over the odds for players here, those days are long gone” he said. “I am not saying we won’t pay players their worth, or we won’t pay the going rate, but they have to be worth it.”