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Former Premier League chief reveals controvsial Stoke City s

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Richard Scudamore has explained his thinking about finances in football with particular reference to Stoke City

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The financial gap between the haves in the Premier League and the have nots in the EFL is seen byStoke Cityas the biggest challenge in football. The question is how to fix it.

Richard Scudamore admits that the price of the Premier League being the most competitive and compelling domestic division in the world with a belief that almost anyone can give a good game to anyone on their day is a little bit of distortion in the second tier.

He does not want to weaken the Premier League to narrow the divide but also does not see the logic in financial fair play rules that prevent wealthy club owners in the Championship, likethe Coates family,from narrowing it themselves.

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Clubs in the Championship are permitted to make losses of up to 39m every three seasons, with guaranteed income of only about 8million. That pales quite poorly in comparison to the teams even at the bottom of the top flight, who know they will pick up at least 100m every season, and even those relegated from the top flight, who bank parachute payments over their first three years down.

There are a thousand ways of (narrowing the gap), said Scudamore, who was Premier League chief executive for 19 years ina podcast with The Athletic.

This gets us into another interesting topic: financial fair play. It seems to me the whole notion of linking what youre allowed to spend to what you generate means people have been having to precisely count revenue, and sometimes artificially report revenue or build group structures so that group revenues can come in.

Wouldnt it be better to say, OK, if the parachute payments mean some clubs have an advantage I can argue about that, clubs are often in such a state when they come down, but lets put that to one side perhaps there should be a system that allowed Championship clubs, if the owners have really got the money, to spend a bit more to compete with the (parachute payment) clubs?

He added: Stoke City and Steve Lansdown at Bristol City, my club, and (Middlesbrough owner) Steve Gibson might be able to do it. If theyve got the money, why are we telling them you cant compete?

This is maybe a little bit controversial but it would be absolute financial madness to give all the Football League clubs enough money to compete because thats only exacerbating some of the issues youve got at the top, with wage inflation. It would only cause problems further down the system.

But allowing those owners whove actually got the money I mean proper capital, proper equity why wouldnt you allow them to do that?

The scale of the gulf was highlighted in the summer transfer window. Premier League clubs gross spend was 1.9bn, that is 67 per cent higher than in 2021 and 34 per cent higher than the previous record. Championship clubs more than doubled their gross spend... to 86m, of which 21.5m was from freshly-relegated Burnley. The collective gross spend was 35.1m in 2021 and is still way down on the three-year average before the pandemic of 169.4m.

There were nine Championship clubs whose transfer income exceeded expenditure. Four of those had a net spend of less than 2m. Ten Championship clubs didnt spend any fee at all while Stoke had undisclosed fees to sign Dwight Gayle and Liam McCarron. They signed 10 players but six were on loan and two were free agents.

Nottingham Forest spent 126m - 46 per cent more than the entire Championship put together - to try to stay in the Premier League after promotion via the play-offs.

Financial fair play rules were introduced to try to stop clubs spending money they could not afford but clubs have still gone to the wall or close since. Derby County, Bury, Bolton Wanderers, Coventry and Port Vale have been in administration in the past 10 years and Bury went bust.

Scudamore said: If you go to the ultimate financial regulation where you basically say, Heres your revenue, this is all you can spend, you can pretty much line those clubs up. Yeah, you can de-risk it but who wants the risk taken out?

Because it is basically a snakes and ladders concept. I know not everybody agrees. But Ive always wanted to make the counterargument that says the snakes and ladders is a beautiful thing. In order for there to be success stories for Brighton to be sitting in sixth or seventh, Bournemouth and Fulham to be up there then, Im afraid, Birmingham has to be down there and Oldham has to be in the National League, because thats the beauty of the system.

Im not saying there cant be better regulation. Im not naïve. Things can always be done better but I would still rather trust the people in charge of the Football League, Premier League and the National League. I would rather trust those whove got football in their core than people appointed by the government.

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