If reports are to be believed, both Brighton and Stoke City will look to offer around £8m for James Chester with their opening bids this week. Considering we paid a similar amount for the 29-year-old, I expect us to reject these proposals if they are made.
However, a report by Gregg Evans in the Birmingham Mail does concern me somewhat. Tony Xia is reportedly “close to exhausting” his options with regards to taking out loans to deal with the cashflow problems at the club.
With tax, payroll and outstanding payments of £11m on past transfers, the bills are mounting up, with things said to be coming to a head in the next ten days.
With Chester, along with Grealish, one of our most saleable assets, I am worried that the need to shore up the club in the short-term may see us selling our no.5 for well below the going rate.
While there has been talk of us holding out for £30m to £40m for our midfield talisman, there is no indication that we have set an asking price for the defender.
It may be that the information just hasn’t entered the public domain, but we’ll have to wait and see how things play out. With two clubs reportedly vying for Chester’s signature, in normal circumstances, it would be a perfect opportunity to play them off against each other.
We could set a pretty high price tag, and see which of the teams are prepared to meet it. If one does, we would then get a good deal, which could help us get the club back on a more even keel.
With Xia seemingly looking to sell the club, there is some hope that a fire sale could be averted this summer, but if the situation is as perilous as Evans describes in his article, the prospect of selling Chester (and perhaps even Grealish) on the cheap is a very real possibility. Let’s hope it doesn’t come to that.