Martin Smith column: Are Sheffield United and Wednesday destined to remain outsiders?

Kyle Walker - expensive, but one of our own
Kyle Walker - expensive, but one of our own
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Are Sheffield’s football glory days over at the highest level?

Have we given up or do we still hope?

Think about it.

As another football season puts its 7am towels on the poolside of our summer, Sheffield has no Premier League football team again.

We scheme and dream, our clubs build and plan but when elite teams can pay £50 million for a full-back what chance have either Sheffield club of returning to the top level in the game?

Look at the numbers. One defender deemed surplus to requirement at Tottenham is moving clubs for a fee that’s more than Sheffield Wednesday’s net spend (£34,91,7500 according to the website) since the start of the Premier League when they paid £1,375,000 for Mark Bright from Crystal Palace in 1992.

In those 25 years since the Premier League began Sheffield United have spent £46m and recouped £61.5m (

That’s a Blades’ net spend of minus £15.5m.

Kyle Walker’s £50 million move from Tottenham to Manchester City is a bigger layout than the combined net spend of Sheffield Wednesday and Sheffield United in their entire histories.

£50m for a made-in-Sheffield full-back - top class though he is –makes him worth more than the Sheffield United football club he left for £9million in 2009 and almost as much as Wednesday

How did we get to this? How did 100 years-plus of football culture in the city that gave birth to the game become so cheapened by the money-making monster of the Premier League?

How? The winners took all, as they said they would.

Both Sheffield clubs signed up to the idea when they joined the original Premier League in 1992 and won world sports’ golden ticket.

Though no-one could have forseen quite the Premier League becoming quite as bloated and self-seeking as it has, there were many who feared something like this would occur.

Those who warned that the traditions of the English football league would be lost in the greed of a cash cow that served only the elite.

The beauty of sport has to be that there is always all to play for.

Oldham Athletic and Coventry City were also members of football’s elite back in 1992.

Leicester, Burnley and Bournemouth were nowhere near it.

What might the next 25 years bring for Sheffield’s big two?