£13.6m drop

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Sheffield United lost £13.6m in the year that saw them relegated from the Championship - and now wages are tumbling.

Plc chairman Kevin McCabe says operating costs including players salaries fell by £4.1m to £18.2m as the club tried to repair the damage of a “wretched” season.

In the club’s annual accounts published yesterday, the League One club boss also apologised to the shareholders and supporters for sanctioning expensive loan signings as United slipped out of the Championship.

However, McCabe, aged 63, has strengthened the general appearance of the balance sheet by personally increasing his stake in the company.

He converted £17m in loan notes into an equity interest.

Impending relegation from the second tier of English football saw turnover drop by £4.3m to £16.2m while gate receipts have gone down £0.7m as attendances have fallen.

Despite the cost-cutting measures and ‘painful’ decisions taken by McCabe, United’s net debt still stands at £32m.

To balance the books, manager Danny Wilson may have no choice but to offload some of his prized assets in the January transfer window.

Wales international Ched Evans, believed to earn around £20,000 a week, could be one player sacrificed. Other high earners include midfield duo Stephen Quinn and Lee Williamson.

In the statement, McCabe said: “The financial year and the football season were wretched for everyone connected with Sheffield United.

“But, rather than wallow in self-pity, we have used these difficult experiences to reassess the whole way the Blades are run. It has meant taking some painful decisions from which we hope to emerge stronger and, as a result, more successful in years ahead.

“On a personal note, I apologise to all shareholders and supporters of the Blades. So much time, effort and financial resource has been invested by the McCabes to make Sheffield United a club with a top-class football infrastructure, well admired in English football.”

The statement says steps to attack the debt mountain have included a freeing of bank debt following the disposal of the Copthorne Hotel and the sale of the Blades Enterprise Centre.

Editor of United fanzine ‘Flashing Blade’ Matthew Bell said: “The club are obviously taking steps to reduce expenditure but can they maintain a decent team on the pitch?

“There may be pressure to sell players in January which will only make Danny Wilson’s job harder.”