Dom Howson: The spiralling cost of chasing the top-flight dream

Benik Afobe.
Benik Afobe.

With six-figure weekly salaries and transfer fees approaching £50million, the Premier League is the world’s richest and most hyped league in the world.

There will be more money than ever in the top flight starting from the 2016-17 campaign when the division’s TV rights deal increases from £3.018bn to £5.136bn for three seasons. Even the three relegated teams will pocket £100m. The stakes have never been higher - and Championship clubs want a slice of that action.

Second-tier teams are now spending lavish amounts of cash on wages and transfer fees. Over the last two seasons, the average spend per second-tier team has risen from £1.3m to £2.3m and just 12% of Championship clubs expect to make a profit this term. So much for Financial Fair Play regulations limiting losses and ensuring clubs avoid spending beyond their means.

Middlesbrough, the Owls’ opponents tomorrow, have paid £9.5m alone over the summer on capturing Stewart Downing and David Nugent from West Ham and Leicester City respectively. Boro, beaten in the Play-Off final last May, are not even one of the sides who benefit from parachute payments!

Just before the start of the season, Blackburn boss Gary Bowyer warned: “My concern is that only three teams can get promoted and a lot of people are putting a hell of a lot of money in and putting their clubs at risk.”

What makes it tougher for clubs - and the national team - to realise their potential is how English players are so vastly over-priced. As Carlos Carvalhal has repeatedly pointed out, the British market is expensive, meaning Wednesday have, at times, been forced to look overseas for reinforcements. Andre Gray and Benik Afobe have proven they are good players at this level but are they really worth £9m-plus? .

The transfer window shuts next Tuesday so will Championship clubs continue to throw caution to the wind or play it safe? Does the financial reward of reaching the promised land outweigh the risk involved?

What the Owls have sensibly done over the last two months is reshape their squad, bringing in quality and adding competition for places in all departments. It is my understanding that should they be flirting with the top-six come the New Year, considerable funds would again be made available for extra team strengthening. Further proof, if it was needed, that chairman Dejphon Chansiri will not rest until Wednesday are back in the big time.