Tuesday, July 23, 2024
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Are PSR transfers a nonsense or defiance to the elite?

So how exactly did it come to this? The Premier League Profit and Sustainability Rules, or PSR as it has become known, has not been the problem solver it was supposed to be.

It’s not the first introduction that, on paper, looked sensible before evolving into a farcical state (Yes, VAR we’re looking at you) of loopholes and lunacy. This week marks the final seven days of the financial year for Premier League clubs with June 30 now cemented as the unofficial transfer deadline.

That’s because PSR has led to a spectacular scramble to get deals done and balance sheets to be brought in order, with clubs now working together to navigate those pesky Premier League rules.

Last season’s stricter-than-ever sanctions for financial breaches saw Everton and Nottingham Forest docked points, which has led to teams now doing all they can to avoid potential punishment without, of course, doing the obvious in abstaining from spending more money.

See, appearing to stand still in the Premier League is not an option, with the external pressure to splash the cash suffocating, as fans demand shiny new toys with which to play with.

So we’ve reached a period of clubs working in cohesion, a merry-go-round of transfers designed to restore order to financial figures rather than dressing rooms.

Aston Villa, Chelsea, Everton and Newcastle are among the clubs we’re informed need to get their accounts in order before June 30. Already we’ve seen Lewis Dobbin and Tim Iroegbunam swap clubs and Dominic Calvert-Lewin, Omari Kellyman, Jhon Duran, Conor Gallagher, Ian Maatsen and Yankuba Minteh could follow in this bizarre inter-club network.

The explanation for all of this is how these transfers can be accounted for. While the fee from a sale can be immediately added to the balance sheet, the money for a purchase can be amortised over the length of the player’s contract. Instant injection of ‘cash’, and debt spread over the coming campaigns. Crafty.

The catch, of course, is that these clubs are only delaying the inevitable. The debt still stands, lurking like a dark cloud on the horizon, and the inflated fees do little to address those longer-term issues.

Chelsea’s impending £19m signing of Omari Kellyman, an 18-year-old with just 35 minutes of Premier League football behind him and who Aston Villa signed for just £600,000 from Derby County a year ago, is an example of the rule-navigating madness we’re witness to right now.

 

The fans of Villa, Everton and Newcastle in particular will see this week’s dealings as a win and there is some truth in that. Everton rebuffed a low-ball offer for Jarrad Branthwaite from Manchester United earlier this month, but the threat of PSR sanctions left the Toffees in need of a solution to avoid a sale.

Together, through inter-dealings, the trio have avoided being bullied into selling their big names to the league’s established wealth. A two-fingered salute to the Premier League Cartel.

See PSR has always been controversial. The anti-regulations brigade insists clubs are businesses and should be allowed to be run as such. PSR helps the rich stay rich, they argue. If you’ve got wealthy backers prepared to delve into deep pockets, good luck to you, and so on.

Then there are the pro-PSR troops. Control, and protection, are needed. Football clubs are the lifeblood of their communities, not playthings for the rich, famous, or entire states.

Both have valid points, but a consensus at least is that the incentive of the current evolution of FFP, PSR, or whatever you want to label it, has become laughable. One of the great joys for football fans is seeing one of their own come through the ranks. Now, PSR is promoting the sale of academy players.

Homegrown players count as pure profit on the accounts and have become pawns in the financial game. Some are being shifted to new destinations solely to free up the funds (on the accounts at least) for signings their new and old clubs truly want.

Who knows what the solution is? It’s easy, with hindsight, to pick holes in policies when the loopholes are already being exploited, much easier than identifying them ahead of time. But it’s an issue that needs to be fixed.

Premier League, it’s over to you.

Read – Euro 2024: Five things we learned from Matchday Two

See more – Euro 2024 – Best XI from the second round of group games

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