Sheffield United’s deadline-day transfer offer highlighted financial disparity Blades are facing

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Blades chief admits he’s unsure how to close “big” gap in top flight

Chief executive Stephen Bettis admits he is unsure how Sheffield United can close the gap to the big clubs in the Premier League, after revealing one deadline-day example that only highlighted the financial gulf that exists in the top-flight. United were offered two players from a rival club on the final day of the window.

By that point United’s business was done after James McAtee became the 10th signing of a summer window that Bettis highlighted as his most difficult since he became involved with the Blades. United’s net spend of around £20m was dwarfed by the majority of their Premier League rivals in a window that saw a record £2.36billion spent, according to analysis from Deloitte Sports Business Group.

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United’s approach this time around differs noticeably from their last time in the Premier League, which saw club-record fees lavished on the likes of Oli McBurnie, Sander Berge and Rhian Brewster. This time around the big-money buys have been Gus Hamer from Coventry City and Aston Villa striker Cameron Archer, but only in response to the high-profile departures of Iliman Ndiaye and Berge close to the start of the season.

United have also looked to keep close control of their wage bill, insisting all new signings agree to wage reductions in the event of relegation to avoid the issues faced by their Yorkshire rivals Leeds United, who have had to ship out a number of their key players on loan after dropping into the Championship. But Bettis, speaking recently at a round-table interview with local media, highlighted one moment as a good example of the challenges United now face in the top flight.

“On the last day of the transfer window, we got offered two players from a Premier League club,” Bettis said. “They told me their wages, and we don’t have one player on what those two are earning. Their club doesn’t want them, they are not in the manager’s plans. They are surplus to requirements and won’t be kicking a ball for their club, but are earning significantly more than the highest player at our club.

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“That’s the difference in the money. When that call came it hit home how big the gap is between us and other clubs. We will probably have the second-lowest wage bill in the division. I saw a stat in the opening game between Burnley and Man City that said City’s back four cost £480-something million that they paid. Burnley have spent £380m in their history. That is what you are dealing with. How, honestly and realistically, can you compete with clubs? The gap is big, I don’t know how you close it.”

The on-field challenges do not get any easier, either, for United, who have one point from their opening four games but still went into the current international break outside the Premier League relegation places. Next up is a trip to Tottenham Hotspur, who signed five different players for more than United’s entire net spend over the summer - including £47.5 million capture Brennan Johnson from Nottingham Forest.

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