Everton, Leeds and Burnley are all living dangerously close to the cliff edge in the battle to avoid relegation from the Premier League… so, who’s facing financial oblivion if they go down and who can cope?
- One of Everton, Leeds and Burnley will be relegated from the Premier League
- Sportsmail looks at how well-equipped they are to cope with the potential drop
- Everton are heading in a dangerous direction but Leeds should ride the storm
- While Burnley should be able to trade their way out of trouble by selling players
The battle to avoid relegation to the Championship (and swerve an immediate £50million hit) is a three-way affair.
Everton and Burnley take on Crystal Palace and Aston Villa respectively on Thursday night, before Sunday’s final day when Leeds can have their say too.
Sportsmail looks at Leeds, Everton and Burnley and examines how well-equipped they are to cope with the drop — and avoid financial Armageddon…
Everton are one of three teams looking to avoid what would be a disastrous relegation this year
Jesse Marsch’s Leeds side only have one game to play while their rivals have two matches left
Heading in a very dangerous direction with fat salaries and a £450million new stadium on the way.
Goodison regulars have been saying for years that following Everton should come with a health warning but never before has the risk been as grave.
How not to run a football club? The blue half of Merseyside are writing the book, and the final chapter may be the grimmest of the lot.
Getting to this stage — where an unthinkable relegation is perilously close to becoming reality — has not come cheap. In 2020-21, they lost £120.9m — that’s £331,232.88 every day. The year before it was £140m. The year before that £111.8m. And for what? A hotch-potch, fragile squad that Frank Lampard is trying to squeeze over the finish line to safety.
In January, £28m was splurged on full backs Nathan Patterson and Vitalii Mykolenko. And yet Seamus Coleman, signed for £60,000 from Sligo Rovers by David Moyes in 2009, continues to get a game every week.
Alex Iwobi moved to Everton for £28m from Arsenal in one of a number big-money signings
Sound bizarre? It gets better. At the time, the £28m paid to Arsenal for Alex Iwobi seemed about £20m too much.
Insiders say the former Gunner’s weekly salary would make you weep. In fairness to Iwobi, who may well play a key role in keeping the Toffees up, he is far from the only one that applies to.
What of the curious case of Anwar El Ghazi?
In January, after losing Lucas Digne to Aston Villa for a generous £25m, Everton had the winger head in the opposite direction on loan. They are understood to be paying all of his £40,000-a-week salary plus a substantial loan fee. El Ghazi has played the grand total of 11 minutes for the grand old team.
There are fat salaries everywhere and a strategic review, the findings of which are being implemented, will no doubt have focused on that area. The key issue is whether the lucrative contracts dished out contain any form of relegation reductions and word is that they do not.
Finding takers for many members of a staggeringly underperforming, overpaid squad will be close to impossible and the wage bill will be the biggest problem the bean counters will face in what could be a summer full of them.
Carrying similar levels of expenditure in the Championship, with revenues drastically reduced, would see a proud club heading in a very dangerous direction.
Regardless of which division they’re in, expect to see attempts to improve the production line through the club’s academy.
Then there is the Alisher Usmanov issue. The oligarch is a close associate of majority shareholder Farhad Moshiri and, following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, the club suspended all their sponsorships with Russian companies backed by Usmanov, which came at a cost.
And then there is a £450m new stadium at Bramley-Moore Dock to pay for, albeit with a fixed price contract. No pressure, Frank…
Everton suspended all their sponsorships with Russian companies backed by Alisher Usmanov
There is also £450million new stadium at Bramley-Moore Dock that the Toffees have to pay for
Should be able to ride the storm. Relegation clauses are in place, there will be pay cuts… but no redundancies.
Listen out for the champagne corks popping in the accounts department at EFL headquarters should Leeds return to the Championship after two years in the top flight. The huge support levels for the Yorkshire club mean giant — and lucrative — television audiences for the second tier, and do officials no harm when chasing cash for new broadcast deals.
Such big numbers also show why Leeds should be able to ride the storm, armed with parachute payments. Season tickets have already sold out for next season, with 25,000 snapped up and 50,000 more down as members. The club will be confident of selling out every home match at the 38,000-seat Elland Road.
Kalvin Phillips would be among the Leeds stars likely to leave should they drop down a division
It is understood there would be no redundancies, which will come as a relief to staff. And although nobody wants to go down, Leeds are likely to be in a decent position financially having structured all first-team contracts to include relegation clauses.
Sportsmail understands the majority of players would see a 50 per cent reduction in salary, with others experiencing a 30 per cent drop. Commercial income would take a hit, but the club would be the strongest in terms of revenue outside the Premier League. Indeed, a front-of-shirt sponsorship deal has already been lined up which would put them beyond any rivals in the EFL.
Longer-term projects, such as the expansion of the stadium, may have to be put on the back burner. And plans to sell the club will also take a back seat. Having done the hard work in lifting them out of decades of Football League gloom, Andrea Radrizzani would not be able to command anywhere near the price he would be looking for with the club in the second tier.
Expect both Kalvin Phillips and Raphinha to depart. With his hometown side in the Premier League, England man Phillips would have been unlikely to take his talents to suitors such as Aston Villa and West Ham.
Star forward Raphinha could also be sold if Leeds fail to avoid the drop to the Championship
But if Leeds drop into the Championship those options suddenly become a lot more appealing. And do not rule out a move north to Newcastle.
Given the reduction in bills, it is thought any income from transfers would go straight into a war chest with the club seeking to come back at the first attempt.
Although not a disaster, the expectation would be that Jesse Marsch ensures their stay in the Championship is a short one.
Should be able to trade their way out of trouble by selling players.
There are two ways of looking at what relegation would mean for the overachieving Lancashire club and their new American owners.
The terms of their December 2020 leveraged takeover (think Glazer-lite) are now clear and at first glance are alarming enough to have punters reaching for the gin bottle at The Royal Dyche — the pub in the shadows of Turf Moor named after the team’s much-loved former manager.
Along with the club’s own money, ALK Capital took out a £65m loan to help fund a £170m deal. That borrowing was due to be paid back in 2025. However, the agreement only remains in place while Burnley remain in the Premier League. If they do not, they will have to repay a ‘significant proportion’ shortly after the end of this season.
Burnley’s caretaker boss Mike Jackson (middle) has two games left to try and keep the club up
No wonder then, that with the team showing few signs of recovery under Sean Dyche, the owners decided to get rid of him.
It is not a situation to envy and has triggered panic in certain quarters, but they should be able to trade their way out of trouble — thanks in no small part to the way the club is structured.
There are assets to sell. Winger Dwight McNeil should fetch about £20m and England goalkeeper Nick Pope would go for a similar amount.
Maxwel Cornet cost about £13m but has a £17m release clause in his contract which you would expect to be triggered after a half-decent first year in the top flight.
The club would also be confident of recouping the £15m they spent on January addition Wout Weghorst and — if need be — they could also cash in on full back Charlie Taylor for a similar amount. The above summer sales would clear the repayment and arm the new manager — Vincent Kompany is the favourite for the job — with funds for replacement players.
The club would also be confident of recouping the £15m they spent striker Wout Weghorst
This is, for Kompany or whoever they settle on, as close to a blank canvas as you could wish for.
While they will be pained to see James Tarkowski leave for nothing, others — such as veterans Phil Bardsley, Erik Pieters and Aaron Lennon — will free up space in the squad and cut the wage bill when their contracts run out this summer.
Perhaps surprisingly, season ticket sales for the next campaign have surpassed last year’s 12,000.
Whether they go down or not, it will be a huge summer for the club. Recruitment, above all else, will be key to ensuring that the Clarets continue to overperform.
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