An unfair game? Parachutes, Sheffield Wednesday and a dozen Watford strikers

Gerard Deulofeu. Troy Deeney. Ken Sema. Adalberto Peñaranda. Glenn Murray. Andre Gray. Isaac Success. Stipe Perica. Luis Suarez (not that one). Jerome Sinclair. Danny Welbeck. João Pedro.

By Alex Miller
Friday, 18th September 2020, 5:00 pm

The Watford FC website shows the club have no fewer 12 first team forwards on the books heading into Saturday’s clash with Sheffield Wednesday, any one of which would surely wander into just about any other Championship matchday squad, if not first team.

Étienne Capoue, Tom Cleverley, Ben Foster, Daryl Janmaat, Will Hughes, Kiko Femenía, Ismaïla Sarr, Roberto Pereyra are further names further back in the field assumed to be on hefty Premier League wages and who would certainly start in any other Championship first team.

A little disingenuous, perhaps, given a great swathe of these names are likely to be sold off before the domestic transfer window shuts on October 16, but while the likes of Sheffield Wednesday scramble through the bargain buckets of free agency markets and loan scraps, the point is there.

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Danny Welbeck, Andre Gray and Pervis Estupinan of Watford look on from the stands during during Watford's opening day win against Middlesbrough.

When it comes to the finance of football’s VIP section, everybody is fighting an unfair game. And as we’ve seen over the past few days, it’s a game that kills the weak.

To protect the level of investment that has assembled that Watford squad, the club will be paid somewhere in the region of £40m this season as a ‘parachute payment’, roughly 55% of what each Premier League club receive in TV payments for the coming season.

They’ll receive around £35m in the second year and £15m in the third.

Football finance experts have described it as a ‘necessary evil’ that allows promoted clubs to compete on their way up while discolouring the competition on the way down. While those with a parachute are handed these gift vouchers, those around them are forced to spend to keep up, or fall out of the sky.

The fact is, it is suggested, that there is no easy answer until salary caps are voted in by those whose interest it is in to oppose them; the clubs at the top of the ladder.

The Premier League keeps on keeping on, the European bourgeoisie seemingly bullet-proof to the recession tearing clubs from communities beneath them. And still, clubs push their broken finances as far as they can.

Macclesfield Town went bust this week over £500,000 or, if reports are to be believed, roughly what Real Madrid will pay Gareth Bale once a fortnight to play for a club 786 miles away. He won’t go short of his £1,000,000-per-fortnight wages, by the way. Tottenham Hotspur will pay the other half.

Sheffield Wednesday, once the big-spenders in the room, have pulled the zip closed on their wallets for now.

Asked his feeling on parachute payments, Monk told The Star this week that ‘it is what it is’: “We’ll focus on ourselves and try to produce our own way of working in the window and try to make the best of it. We’ve done well up to this point, considering where we’re working in the markets.

“That will need to continue up to the end and if we can strengthen, great, if we can’t? Full steam ahead with what we’ve got.”

Football has eaten itself and will continue to do so while those in the expensive seats hold the power. It is what it is.

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