Now I’m not one for figures but even I knew were were in a bit of a sticky financial situation.
On top of having no transfer budget I had been reliably informed that I had little ‘wiggle room’ (the descriptive didn’t help soften the blow as presumably the club’s accountant had intended) when it came to our transfer budget.
The club was forking out £4,621 a week on my rather depressingly mediocre semi-professional outfit, alarmingly close to the meagre £4,760 limit my Chairman had made clear as part of my now infamous welcome meeting. This was bad news, meaning that to bring anyone else in I had to either find someone else willing and naive enough to take at least one of my boys off me, or convince them to seek pastures new themselves.
My squad was heaving with inadequacy and boasted 24 paid players on its books. Of these, I set about trying to get rid of Kieran Morris, Tom Sharpe and Junior English. These guys were picking up £150, £200 and £150 respectively per week and didn’t feature in any of my first team plans. Getting rid of them would free up £500 per week on my wage budget and buy me a little more breathing space with my weekly payroll commitments. Unfortunately it wasn’t easy finding any takers, despite me repeatedly offering their services for knock down prices like some kind of semi-desperate pimp.
Deciding I had to force the hand somewhat, I sat down with the three of them and made my feelings abundantly clear. Telling someone that you have no wish for them to remain at the club and would prefer for them to seek new opportunities elsewhere isn’t the easiest thing to say, but each one accepted my wishes with a fair amount of grace and agreed to facilitate their departure from the club.
Thankfully Altrincham soon listened to my prayers and came in with an audacious £1,500 offer for 27 year old Tom Sharpe following some of his fairly effective flirting with the club’s hierarchy. With zero business acumen I gratefully accepted their offer with no intention of negotiating a better price and quickly ushered Tom out of the door.
Shortly following would be Kieran: the mercurial young defender (as his agent often referred to him) was subject to a £0 offer from Hayes and Reading. Despite my willingness to offload a very mediocre and limited defender, the request offended me as his value was touted at £7,000. Hayes, however, weren’t budging and refused to negotiate on their initial offer. Begrudgingly I accepted the insult and duly pointed Kieran towards the exit.
£350 per week slashed from the wage bill. Things were looking good.
Unfortunately Junior English would prove to be a more difficult problem to shift. Despite being touted to the world and his wife the lack of significant interest was staggeringly depressing. Even those who casually enquired about his availability quickly looked elsewhere having cast a closer eye over his physical and mental attributes. A change of tactic was required and I decided to give him a few games over the coming weeks to put him in the shop window. Hell, he might even surprise me.
I didn’t hold out much hope.