Beermat Budgeting For Boro’s Summer Spree

BORO fans have drawn up their summer transfer target wish list…

Blackburn Rovers prolific one-in-two £10m rated hitman Jordan Rhodes.
And, what the hell, why not his £7m rated strike partner Rudy Gestede as well? Either/or. They’ll do.  And maybe Sako from Wolves – on a free but said to be asking his suitors for £50k a week. He’s good. Or Vydra from Watford.

And obviously, Jelle Vossen back on a real deal. Plus Pritchard. Bamford and Ake on loan. Reuben Loftus-Cheek?  Maybe a keeper? And a centre-back? Let’s have a quick scan down the Premier League released list, there’s bound to be a few bargains in there…

Blimey did Boro win at Wembley? Where’s all the money coming from?


                        Cash to burn? We’ll need it to fulfill the fans’ summer wish list

Financial Fair Play rules don’t cease to apply just because you got close enough to touch and feel and smell the filthy lucre of the Premier League.  Norwich only agreed to split the play-off final gate receipts on the day you know, not the whole £100m plus prize pot.
The bright lights and big stadium glitz of London seem to have blinded some people to the harsh landscape of Championship finances. Which is where we remain. Just because we got to Wembley Boro don’t suddenly have massive piles of cash to burn.  Boro still have to operate within a tight budget. Yes, Steve Gibson will go to the max allowed under the FFP rules but there is still a limit. We have not quite cast off the shackles of austerity.

So how much have Boro got to spend this summer?

Only the chairman really knows because whatever the variables – ticket money, Wembley windfall, incoming fees – Boro are still in the red and  ultimately he is the one writing the cheques and taking the hit in person.  So the bottom line is that Boro can spend what he is willing to put in.

But we can do some back of a beer mat budgeting as what that might be.  We can look at last year’s spending levels that were seen as affordable and factor in the financials that have changed in the past 12 months.

We can start by saying that Boro have more leeway than last year – but that doesn’t necessarily mean more actual money.

Last summer went right to the FFP ceiling. They spent £2.8m on KIke and an initial £1.5m on Adam Clayton plus shelled out a £1m loan fee for Jelle Vossen but – incredibly – got £1.2m for Marvin Emnes and an initial £1.5m for Lukas Jutkiewicz.  The net spend was £2.7m, which apart from the relegated sides who had parachute payments was one of the larger outlays in the league and a figure that Tony Mowbray could only dream of.

The cash deals aside, the rest of last summers  recruits came on frees – although they will all need paying.  And Boro will also have made a contribution (often a substantial one) to the wages of the loans that came in too. Don’t forget that when you do your calculations.

That spend on fees and wages had Boro right up to the £8m FFP limit for allowable losses after all the adjustments, such as the cost of the Academy.  Given the reported loss of £14m in the annual company accounts and relatively persistently low revenue through the gate and from sponsorship and commercial it really didn’t leave much wriggle room.

This season though things have improved in several ways.

The FFP limits are being raised as the Football League move towards a three year cycle so Boro can lose £13m next year before punishments kick in – and with three clubs placed under transfer embargo this term that is a very real threat.  The raising of the ceiling gives some accounting breathing space if not providing actual money. Losses are still losses.

And this years Boro have been boosted as revenues have increased, if not dramatically.
The average Riverside gate has gone from bumping along just above the 14,000 mark to regularly nudging above 18,000 and with a late flurry of bumper crowds in the run in.
But after costs and taxes the club have an average take of just a tenner per head so even an increase of 4,000 through the gate  only chips in £920,000. Useful but not a fortune.

Boro did enjoy a cup bonanza and took 45% of the big gates at Liverpool (41,827), Manchester City (44,836) and Arsenal (59,823) – which at an average of £20 a head works out at £1.74m – although tax would take £350,000 of that.  Plus Boro will get a slice of the FA Cup prize fund, earning £157,5000 for reaching the fifth round.

Throw in the extra gate money for the sold out play-off semi-final clash with Brentford: the gate over the two games is pooled and split and Bor should have taken around £350,000 there.  And then there is the Wembley cash: both sides agreed that the loser would take all the gate money which after taxes, Wembley facility fee and Football League levy works out at £3m.  So on paper Boro have taken in the region of £5.7m more income than last summer… but ….  there’s always a but.


                            Boro’s transfer kitty… or Steve GIbson as we call him

That isn’t “extra cash” to be spent of course. In reality it just mitigates the deficit. It just means that Boro have made a smaller loss. It just means that Steve Gibson is not taking such a direct hit in his own pocket.

It does however help when it comes to calculating the FFP limits and the extra income plus change in the system will raise the ceiling and give the chairman room for manouvere.

And there are still massive costs that have to be factored in before you can splash the cash on fees, not least the wage bill.  Last year Boro’s wage bill went up markedly. After three tough years of prudent belt tightening under Mowbray and finally clearing the toxic legacy of  Strachan’s Great Tartanisation, Karanka had more leeway in his playing staff budget.

That funded not just the wages of signings but also paid for a far better calibre of loanee.
Having been trimmed back to £16m, the wage bill nudged back up to £20m last year – and then Boro spentan extra £2m in January on Adam Forshaw which will pop up in this year’s accounts. So that is probably the increase of the FFP limits already used up.

Leaving what exactly to spend without busting the ceiling? The increased revenues? Maybe £5m?  Plus whatever Steve Gibson is ready to risk in straying over the line?

Boro could maybe take a punt and push the limit a bit knowing they could sell to recoup the investment if they didn’t get promoted. Or could go right up to the line and prepare to throw a bit more in come January if  they are close but the squad is fraying.

Or, if a coveted target suddenly became available at a price too good to turn down and the kitty falls short or some has been spent, then that may be funded by selling.

Don’t panic! There is no intention or any pressure to sell the crown jewels – Boro have a good framework and won’t want to damage that – but sometimes opportunities to improve the squad present themselves and decisions have to be made for the long term.

My instinct is that Gibson will do whatever he can to support Karanka in a concerted now-or-never push for promotion.  This squad went close last term leaving the chairman frustrated at exactly how narrow the gap was – but the fire still burns and having talked to him it is clear that he is totally convinced that gap can be bridged.

My instinct is that as a fan he will go out on a limb to bring in the quality players needed to get Boro over the line – and especially to bring in the crucial added firepower.

But the club don’t have an unlimited budget. Many of the “targets” now setting the cyber-space rumour mill alight are not realistic.  Many are bedroom fiction by “ITK”  mischief makers. Most are wishful thinking and election style uncosted aspirations.

Could Boro afford Jordan Rhodes? Probably not. Certainly not at the mooted £10m pricetag and in the face of Premier League competition and the wages they can offer.  Palace are interested. Hull are interested. Other are monitoring the situation.  And if it comes to a transfer fee arms race with can’t compete.

Maybe given a clear run Boro could structure a deal creatively with, say, £5m down and all kind of clauses say – but it would blow the whole budget on one player and run the risk of falling short in other key positions.  And why would Blackburn accept such an offer when Rhodes has a queue of suitors with ready cash? And it is Rovers’ interest to wait as long as possible to push the price up whereas Boro want to do business as early as possible.

Boro’s key objective this summer is to add the vital firepower that could have seen them over the line.  But they can’t compromise the integrity of the team as a whole.  And there are other gaps to be filled as well – right-back, cover in central defence, a creative midfielder – and that will take a chunk out of the budget.

Boro need to get the maximum bang for their buck on the pitch. That will take shrewd shopping: a keen eye for talent based on detailed scouting and data analysis; a couple of well placed phone calls to make strategic use of the loan market; the chairman’s market muscle to compete on fees and wages if  needed; and luck. you can’t put a price on that.


This is 12 inch Numba Crunchaz remix of a bit I did on the Gazette website


Incidentally, this is the 998th post on the blog over nine years and various platforms.  What shall we do to celebrate the 1,000th? Shall we do a “Best of” clip show?  Requests? Shall we have a  party? A quiz? A day out at the cricket?*







246 thoughts on “Beermat Budgeting For Boro’s Summer Spree

  1. At least we are poor at Cricket, just like International Football. Anyway I have to drive all the way to Peterborough today so I may take a look at the Posh’s ground to check the grass.



      1. OFB,

        No I couldn’t possibly do that, it would be too much like those people who go to Sid James’ Park! I’ll just check the grass, how the goalmouth(s) look and the white line density and see if there are any proposals for new patterns on the corner flags.

        Desperate days, the dog days and tumbleweed days. Don’t the fixtures come out this week and AV is back on the case too having got all the emulsion out of his hair and fingernails.



  2. Let’s say the transfer budget is £6m. If everything was agreed and the player was happy with the wage package, if it took a £2m loan fee for the season, would you take Andy Carroll?

    1. GT

      Andy Carroll will probably end up at Newcastle again and we couldn’t afford his wages and I for one wouldn’t like him at Boro very injury prone


      1. OFB,

        Just got back from Peterborough and I can report it was green. That’s today’s excitement over.



      2. OFB,

        No I didn’t get close enough, I’ll sneak a little Rabone & Chesterman steel rule with me next time and get on the pitch. It was definitely green though. I wonder when they mow it.



  3. Neil

    I’m from Teesside, to my generation that means Yorkshire as well, south of the Tees is still in the ceremonial county of Yorkshire.

    Normally cricket is a passing mention on here. It is a bit of banter. If nobody said don’t talk cricket it would barely get a mention.

  4. With Carrols injury record we would resort to long balls in to the treatment room. He certainly holds play mostly waiting for him to be fit.

  5. AV you do realise we pay tax on profits not revenue right? I think you need to take all those payments to the taxman out of your calcs.

    **AV writes: Boro pay 20% VAT on ticket take & commercial activity. That’s at point of sale. They would pay corporation tax on profits. If there were any.

  6. What awaits us in the coming months? Read the links from Vic’s tweets so my intial thoughts

    Fixtures out shortly and I’m always torn between mouth watering early clashes and ‘easily’ winnable games. I suspect a lot of incoming may be loans again so a start with the old guard.

    Injuries aside it would be no surprise to see us starting
    Kalas, Ayala, Gibbo, George
    Leadbeltor, Clayts
    Albert, Tomlinho, Reach

    Bench: Dependant on who we bring but at the moment from Ripley, Nsue, Husband, Forshaw, Carayol, Williams, Fewster, Wildschutt plus any coming through could push their way in

    So much depends on who we bring in. Aitor likes to settle players in to the squad and system so even if they come in relatively early they may have to wait their turn.

    I think we may not see any major changes until September, the starting eleven should get us off to a better start than last August.

    1. Ian –

      I would hope that the club learned from last season that not having everything in place until September cost us valuable points. Granted not everything works out as planned and we have to wait on other clubs deals to see if player “A” will actually be sold or player “B” will come in on loan but hopefully the scouts will have a list and be working on it already.

      Kalas is clearly on that list and will do fine for me. If Freddy for example was also on the list but that “duplicate position” deal took a few weeks longer then no problem. What is key though is having the right level of player in-situ for each position from the off. Last season we kicked off with Seb Hines at RB from memory.

      The above team you suggested is pretty strong and really only missing Bamford and Vossen. This season we are starting from a stronger position unless of course the unthinkable and we lose some more players. Watching England yesterday I wouldn’t swap any of that back four for George or Ben but that’s both a strength and a grave worry. I would hate to lose either but if silly money offers came in I don’t think the club could ignore them.

      The potential cash raised from those two could fund a Rhodes “type” and a Vossen deal (not that I think Rhodes is the answer). I suspect Amorebeita may arrive either on loan or permanently so that could factor into our willingness to part with either or both of those two assets.

      The danger is that we could start the Season having lost three with Bamford (or arguably four with Vossen) of our “core” players and gambling that we will replace with as good or better by the end of August.

  7. Andy Carroll? No thanks even if it was a possibility.

    It can not be a coincidence that the players with an active social life now or before have the greatest difficulty recovering from injuries and are also more likely to be injured.

    Disturbing photos of that young Aston Villa player this morning. One exceptional season and he could well blow it all.

  8. Andy Carroll, definitely not, no, absolutely not!

    No club with any sense would spend serious money on a perma crock forward in the hope their goals will bring you success.

    Anyway it now looks like our scouting trips to Portugal have us linked with 26 year old 6ft 3″ Sengalese/French (as oppose to Dutch/Moroccan this time) Estoril forward Frédéric Mendy. He is out of contract apparently and he doesn’t appear to get suspended or injured often so that makes him a far better potential acquisition than the “Geordie Ibrahimovic”.

    **AV writes: Where do people get these names? Football Manager has a lot to answer for. He is a former Golden Boot in Singapore’s S-League you know.

  9. Redcar Red –

    I share your concerns but what will happen will happen, I am not going to get worked up about it. There is little we can do about our position in the food chain. One thing we do know is that Aitor wont panic.

    I watched the U21’s the other night and all the pundit talk was about the couple of places that haven’t been settled in the starting line up. One of the key issues that seemed to interest them was who would start alongside Stones at centre back. Gibson was basically ignored even though he played the full 90 minutes and has done so for the last few matches. He is left footed apparently and that could be useful just about summed it up.

    I suspect Gibson could play every match, England could have a clean sheet in all the games, Stones injured pre tournament, Gibbo score three goals from set plays and still be ignored.

    Long may it continue.

  10. Lets hope that Ben continues to get ignored/overlooked until we are in the Prem!

    On other news today, Boro fans are complaining that the club will not have any of the new shirts back in stock until October. I would have thought that anyone who is desperate for the “new” shirt could find plenty of old Forest or Liverpool identikit shirts on that internet auction site.

    Seriously though the club have already sold more than last season’s shirt apparently and are being labelled as incompetent in not being able to keep up with demand. In the absence of Keith Lamb I blame AK. If he hadn’t got the side to Wembley the same week as launching it then the 23,000 “returned” wouldn’t have wanted one and MFC would have had enough stock until April 2016.

    There’s just no pleasing some people, just hope they all turn up at the Riverside next Season in their retro Forest shirts.

    **AV writes: That’s what you get if you sign up with a mega-firm like Adidas who are churning out big club shirts 21 hours a day and are only available for other minor orders for a small window of each shift. Boro are probably their 93rd most important customer. We’ve had our scheduled run of 15,000 kits or whatever, delivered at the time contracted. To ask for more now means a major logistical exercise in rearranging the factory print run. You can’t just ring up and ask them to run another 5,000 off by the end of the week.

  11. Redcar Red –

    Some of the 23,000 returnees may be will to sell their shirts now we are consigned to the Championship for another season.

    Vic mentions some of the potential opponents in the first round of the league cup. I am going for Burton away. I can get to the Burton Ground quicker than Pride Park. We owe some payback for the defeat several years ago.

  12. I always enjoy the first round of the League Cup, an away fixture anywhere within 100 miles of London will do. Stevenage would be my first preference.

    **AV writes: THe first round is regionalised. We are seeded and will play an unseeded team North of about Coventry-Burton-Peterborough(ish). The line it is not an exact science. Shrewsbury were “northern” a few years ago.

    1. I thought we played Gillingham recently in the first round, maybe that was the second round?

      **AV writes: That was the night we first saw Muzzy hit the afterburners. And Cameron Park scored a deft chip. And Martin Allen was hanging around at the main gate at the end shaking EVERYBODY by the hand and wishing them goodnight and a safe trip home. That was the second round, we’d won 2-1 away at Bury in the first round.

  13. Ian –

    Do you know a forum for us who are Ingleby Greenhow CC fans?

    Boy, on Thursday I will be on holiday for over three weeks. When I am back, I hope we have signed a striker or two.

    Is it tomorrow for the fixtures pf 2015/16?

    Up the Boro!

    **AV writes: No, League Cup 1st round draw tomorrow. Championship fixtures out on Wednesday.

  14. Jarkko –

    You appear to be under the radar. If you do wish to go to Ingleby Greenhow CC I suggest you fly to Paris first to hide your real intention. You can fly or catch the Eurostar from there. In the Uk dont get a direct train. St Pancras to Sheffield, on to York/Leeds to catch the direct service to Middlesbrough. You can get to Ingleby from there.

    If anyone questions you, just pretend you are an English footballer and your English is poor. Tell them that you are the author of Suomen heinäsirkat ja hepokatit. They wont have a clue.

    Hope that helps.

    Sadly I dont think there will be three signings before you return to Finland

    1. Ian,

      my knowledge on cricket is so poor. I have never seen it on TV over here – never. So my experience is based on seeing two matches live all my live – both times it was Ingleby Greenhow CC.

      For the glory hunters it is Yorkshire CC. But I’ll stick to IGCC for ever. Up Ingleby Greenhow (do they have a nick name?)!

      Up the Boro!

    2. PS. Loved the “Suomen heinäsirkat ja hepokatit.” part. insects with long legs and who are jumping are my specialty!

    1. I am going to enjoy the sun. I will pack Mrs Jarkko and my car in a over night train to Rovaniemi. That is a town on the polar circle and we might say hello to Mr Santa Claus as he lives over there. Then we drive some 300 miles North and should reach the most northern point of Europe – Nordkapp in Norway.

      As you all must know, the sun does not set for three months north of Artic Circle in Summer. So it will be sunshine 24 h a day for the 2 weeks. The problem will be to know when to sleep after a day or two as there is no darkness anytime of the day or night. I just hope the weather gets a bit warmer soon.

      So I back home in two weeks’ time – then it is gardening or painting work for a week I am afraid. But that is OK as long as we have signed a striker or two.

      Up the Boro!

      1. Nigel

        It was merely a reference to Jarkkos furtive support for Ingleby Greenhow. Meant to be slightly tongue in cheek but Jarkko appreciated it.

  15. Now that AV has pointed out the League Cup 1st round is regionalised, I’ll go for Peterborough in round 2, I like it there.

  16. Don’t wish to appear to be disparaging (but I’m going to be anyway) but what is the point in this round of the League Cup. Can’t there be a 1st round or even a preliminary round between League 1 and 2 clubs and when they have been pruned back then introduce Championship sides in round two and then Prem sides round 3.

    Looking at that fixture list I got a quarter way down reading it and realised that I wasn’t even bothered about who Boro landed let alone who the likes of Morecombe, Burton, Chesterfield, Fleetwood etc. were playing.

    So its Oldham away, I can barely contain my nonchalance.

    Today there is a dimly lit report distancing Boro from Salzburg Striker Soriano. “Meanwhile, Boro’s supposed interest in Red Bull Salzburg’s 29-year-old striker Jonathan Soriano is being described as wide of the mark”. I thought that was last season’s link, there again it probably is and after 12 + months it is probably fair to describe it as “wide of the mark”.

    Kike to Wolves, now that one I wasn’t expecting. I wonder if there is any mileage in it. I would doubt it very much on the basis that I can’t see Kike loving the black country nor that Wolves would offer anything close to what we would want to recoup. Then I thought of us getting paid for Juke and Emnes last season, so never say never I suppose.

    I would be inclined to hang onto Kike for another season, I think he is better than what we have seen of him to date and I reckon that if Wildschut (again I think he is better than the little we have seen) gets up to speed and plays wide left with Albert on the right and Tomlin in the No. 10 role then that could be a pretty potent force. Wildschut has a physical presence and doesn’t get brushed off the ball easily which would help our powderpuff attack. The drawback I think with AK is that Yanic hasn’t learnt like AA to get back and defend and like Muzzy is a little too maverick.

    I’m rambling now…………..roll on August!

    **AV writes: The “distancing themselves from.. .” is in papers who reported the link without checking and got it wrong and and are now instead reporting that Boro “are no longer interested” when actually they were never interested at all. The Kike story ISN’T a story. It is an unattributed snippet on the Express and Star “linked list/gossip snippets round-up”. If there was anything it – ANYTHING – it would be the main story on their website and all over the net. It is just more mischief making fiction.

    1. Round One is a chance for the lower end of the scale clubs to get a few quid from the competition as they are knocked out.

      I’m sure a few more will turn up at Oldham as it is The Boro who will be the opposition.

  17. You’re spending too much time on Twitter AV.

    It isn’t necessary to capitalise words on here. We are capable of understanding without “Shouting”

    **AV writes: Sometimes italics just aren’t enough.

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