Big interview: Preston North End director Peter Ridsdale on a 'weird' transfer market, recruitment and Financial Fair Play

At the top end of the transfer market business is really booming as Jack Grealish’s £100m move to Manchester City proved this week.

By Dave Seddon
Friday, 6th August 2021, 6:09 pm
Updated Friday, 6th August 2021, 6:28 pm

Aston Villa, knowing that cash was on the way from City, had paid out £25m for Danny Ings.

There is talk of Harry Kane moving from Spurs for money which puts Grealish’s fee in the shade.

It is all a bit different in the Championship where money isn’t changing hands in any vast amounts.

Preston North End director Peter Ridsdale who is advisor to Trevor Hemmings

Bosmans and loans have tended to be the order of the day in the second tier.

An exception this week was striker Sam Surridge’s move to Stoke City from Bournemouth, with the fee included add-ons reported to be £5.5m.

Peter Ridsdale describes the current market outside of the Premier League as ‘weird’, the consequence of clubs having played behind closed doors for 16 months.

The start of the new season with fans inside the stadiums is hopefully a sign of normality and the game being able to recover its financial health.

Ridsdale, advisor to Preston North End owner Trevor Hemmings, a director and one of three Championship representatives on the EFL board, is tasked with the job of keeping the Lilywhites’ finances on an even keel.

It’s very much a balancing act, trying to find enough cash to keep the squad competitive at the same time as keeping within the limits of Financial Fair Play.

Doing so at the moment is proving challenging as he outlined when meeting with the local media this week.

“It is a weird transfer market,” Ridsdale told the Lancashire Post.

“First of all it is weird because there is no obvious market for those players who might free up space in the squad.

“There has always been a massive gap in terms of wages between the Premier League and Championship, what I’m finding now is there is an even bigger salary gap between the Championship and Leagues One and Two.

“If you want to freshen up the squad by letting players go elsewhere on loan for game time or moving elsewhere, there is no money for that to happen. A lot of clubs in the league below us can’t afford to contribute much to wages.

“In the Championship there isn’t a lot of money being spent. There are some mind-boggling numbers in the Premier League but only a relatively few clubs have actually been spending.

“It is the weirdest transfer environment I have known. Last summer was the same in that strange window between the two seasons.

“You look back a few years when we were looking at the value of Ben Davies and Ben Pearson. Nothing happened last summer and when January came, the market had gone from players being worth £20m to not a lot.”

North End’s dealings this summer have mirrored many others in the division.

Six players have come in, three of them returns from last season – Sepp van den Berg, Daniel Iversen and Liam Lindsay.

Matthew Olosunde, Izzy Brown and Jamie Thomas complete the set.

PNE want a striker to bolster their strike force and the search is ongoing, that something with the supporters find frustrating.

There has been a lot of talk this summer about how North End recruit, Frankie McAvoy having taken the head coach role rather than the manager title.

That takes him out of the forefront of recruiting but Ridsdale insists not a great deal is different in how PNE identify and bring in their transfer targets.

“Nothing has changed in the 10 years I’ve been here on that front,” said Ridsdale.

“We have weekly reviews with the football staff of who we have got and what we might need.

“That starts with the head coach, and all the coaching staff have an input. We look at areas where we would like to strengthen.

“Now we have got James Beet here, he is given a brief of coming up with players who might be available in those positions, ideally within our financial parameters.

“James puts together the analysis of the players together and forwards it to the football staff. I’m involved in that process.

“When the coaching staff have identified the best players that they would like to see here from those put forward, we try and touch base with either their agents or clubs to find out availability and price.

“Some people think I do it all or someone else does it all. The fact of the matter is that everyone is involved.”

Ridsdale admits for the first time PNE are having to keep a close watch on financial fair play.

“In Leagues One and Two clubs can spend a percentage of turnover,” said Ridsdale.

“Equity injection is included in turnover, so if your turnover £10m and your owner wants to put in £10m, you can spend a percentage of £20m.

“In the Championship, FFP is average losses over a three-year period.

“During the Covid period, the transfer market being depressed and our turnover being at the lower end, it is a challenge.

“We have to keep below the limits or we will be charged. That is the challenge we face.”

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