The news yesterday that we had sealed the exit of Bersant Celina and look to be just about due another £1m from the sale of Dan James probably couldn’t have been better timed as the government cast a big shadow of doubt over whether the plan to return fans to stadiums was going to happen this side of Christmas.
The Swans confirmed the departure of Celina to Dijon for an ‘undisclosed fee’ but believed to be somewhere in the region of £3m and subject to international clearance. This followed the news earlier in the day that one more start, or a 20 minute substitute appearance will be enough to trigger a release clause in the sale of Dan James to earn the Swans another £1m for that transfer deal. All income that is desperately needed by the club ahead of a season that will start behind closed doors at Preston on Saturday.
That closed door experience took a big step to being the case for longer yesterday as the UK government announced rules that state no gatherings of more than six people outdoors although it does come with a caveat that there are, and will be, exceptions to that rule.
The Premier League instantly warned of a £700m black hole in football which brings us back to the continued debate that we have talked about on Planet Swans of the players have to feel some pain in their pockets at some stage if the majority of clubs are to survive.
Clearly the health and safety of supporters comes first and I fear that football will try and put pressure onto the government to relax guidelines as far as football stadiums are concerned but it would be madness in the current environment for anything other than stadiums to remain closed for the foreseeable future and probably in line with our earlier prediction that it would be the remainder of 2020 as a minimum.
Of course that happening will be putting additional pressure onto clubs already feeling a pinch and could mean additional departures from the Swans with the spotlight being on the likes of Andre Ayew again and his high wages. Given the relatively small nature of our squad we need to hold onto players to be competitive on the pitch but similarly we have to remain sustainable off it which is even more important.
So when you hear the news of maybe £4m coming into the club it really is a huge deal for us. The £1m from the James transfer is of course a natural boost and whilst Celina was without a doubt a talented player he didn’t fit in the mould of a team that Steve Cooper wants and his days at the club were looking numbered long before this deal came about.
The other impact of the government announcement yesterday will be felt possibly in the reaction fans make to their season ticket options. With more of the season now likely to be behind closed doors does it increase or decrease the chances of fans asking for a refund? Again though how much do those options change if the players are seen to take a hit – will fans be more likely to keep money in the club on that basis?
Whichever way you look at it football’s future remains uncertain so all incoming monies are a welcome addition to our cashflow model.