The £45m a year wage bill is a major problem for the football club. That may be stating the obvious, but it’s not an issue that will go away overnight. There has been talk of getting it under control, with the club looking to cut as much as £15m a year, a third of the total.
Yet, some of the major wage earners don’t look to be going anywhere, any time soon. Micah Richards (on £35k a week until 2019), Ross McCormack (on £40k a week until 2020) and Henri Lansbury (reportedly on £40k a week until 2021) are three players that many fans would like to see leave in order to cut costs.
There are others like Mile Jedinak (apparently on £50k a week) and Jonathan Kodjia (£35k a week) who are on similar wages, but they were a major part of Steve Bruce’s first team. The three in question played very little under the current manager ( Lansbury had the most appearances last season with 12), but their wages make it very hard to see where potential sales can happen.
Richards’ injuries mean no team will take a chance on signing him permanently, especially with the wages he commands. Our best shot may be to agree to a compensation package to release him from his contract a year early, but the player would have to be willing to consider that.
McCormack meanwhile isn’t someone we could do that with. We are unlikely to get much back on the £12m we paid for him, and again it’s unlikely any team would be prepared to pay his salary. The 31-year-old did put himself in the shop window during his spell in Australia with Melbourne City, but the A-League side lack the funds to sign him.
The best hope is that a Chinese, Japanese or perhaps a MLS side took note of his performances, and would consider offering a wage acceptable to the striker. If that doesn’t happen, a loan switch (with part of his wages paid by the other club) is the best we could hope for.
With Lansbury, at 27 years of age, he does still have a lot to offer, and there are no doubt Championship clubs who would like him. However, wages make any permanent deal difficult. A loan is the likeliest outcome, but we really need to get such players off the wage bill completely if we are going to drastically cut costs. Our no.8 would have to take a significant wage cut to move, and it comes down to the character of the player about whether first team football is preferable to a lucrative contract.
The major worry is these three players will be at the club by the end of the transfer window without their futures being resolved. Considering the financial difficulties, I am hoping that all three of them take up any offer they get to leave.