Sheffield United: Finance expert reveals the price of defeat

Sheffield United striker Chris Porter  reflects on the implications of losing Monday's play-off semi-final second-leg to Yeovil Town
Sheffield United striker Chris Porter reflects on the implications of losing Monday's play-off semi-final second-leg to Yeovil Town
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The price of Sheffield United’s defeat in the League One play-offs is around £5m, a leading football finance expert has told The Star.

But Rob Wilson, whose interests include management accounting and economic decision making in sport, insisted its board of directors are taking the steps required to ensure Bramall Lane becomes a viable, sustainable business.

Wilson, of Sheffield Hallam University, said: “That is the figure which reaching the Championship is widely regarded as being worth. Promotion to that division naturally has a positive impact upon things like television revenues, sponsorship and other commercial streams.

“The difference between the two (League One and the Championship) is probably a lot bigger than many people would think.”

“There are some very capable people at Sheffield United and they are clearly taking the steps you would expect and hope to see business wise,” Wilson added. “And there things you can do to try and help make up that financial gap such as being creative with sponsorship.

“There are avenues open to Football League clubs which aren’t for those in the top-flight, such as branding on the back of shirts and shorts, and so you have got to be imaginative and creative.”

Teams such as Leeds and Nottingham Forest have taken three seasons to claw themselves out of English football’s third tier.

United, relegated from the Championship in 2011, reached the play-off final 13 months later before being beaten at the semi-final stage by Yeovil Town four days ago.

Despite his confidence in the approach being adopted by the club’s hierarchy, which include demanding their next manager must promote youngsters from its Shirecliffe youth academy and adhere to strict budgetary controls, Wilson warned the forthcoming campaign is of critical importance.

“The general consensus is that clubs need to get out within three seasons,” he said. “Otherwise, it becomes an even more difficult task.

“The reason being is that things like crowds, unless something is done to inspire them, can start to reduce and it becomes harder to attract the type of players that you need to be competing at the top of the table.

“That’s why it’s important for clubs to keep the supporters engaged with different initiatives like ticket pricing structures, offers and recruitment.”

*Twitter: JamesShield1