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Should QPR, Norwich and Swansea be spending more or less?



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When writing a piece for the Montreal Gazette concerning how much each promoted side had paid to assemble their roster, it was interesting to note the circumstances of each team. Queens Park Rangers, though ostensibly backed by the capacious pockets of Bernie Ecclestone and perhaps Lakshmi Mittal, have spent a miserly ₤1.25 million on striker D.J. Campbell while both Swansea City and Norwich City have repeatedly raided the Football League for standouts and bargains.

Both Norwich and Swansea Cities have spent record transfer fees this year on strikers from the Championship; the Swans captured Watford’s Danny Graham, while the East Anglian avian cousins grabbed Welsh International Steve Morison from Millwall. Both clubs have also re-tooled with stars of the lower-tiers like Wayne Routledge, Leroy Lita, Anthony Pilkington and Elliott Bennett.

Though both are spending – both appear to have spent nearly nine million pounds – it seems both are following the WBA and Blackpool approach to the Premiership: survival would be nice, but not worth overextending the club’s finances. With sound investment and a keen eye on the wage bill, the parachute payments should see a club in contention for promotion again within a year or two.

Prudence has been the order of the day in both far East and West. Not only do lower-leaguers cost less, but they also demand smaller wage packets as they seek a chance for Premier League success. Like the global economy, we could see these clubs prepared to “double-dip” to avoid mimicking the harrowing fortunes of Hull City or Portsmouth.

These sudden wodges of cash burning holes in the pockets of Paul Lambert and Brendan Rodgers aren’t dissimilar to those spent by Newcastle United and West Bromwich Albion before last season. QPR’s meagre investment is dwarfed even by Blackpool’s last season, who spent less than four million pounds. Both have preferred to bring in free transfers. The difference between the two, however, is that the Rs spent mostly in 2007-08-09, bringing in the likes of Heidar Helguson, Hogan Ephraim, Alejandro Faurlin and Matthew Connolly.

Newcastle United are perhaps the most atypical promoted side in recent history. Rather than being a long-term Championship heavyweight such as WBA, Birmingham or (to a lesser extent) Wolves, they easily won the Championship after years of bringing in players who fit a Tyneside lust for power. Like perhaps West Ham United will be this term, Newcastle were a Premier League squad playing in the Championship.

The table below is designed to give ballpark figures of how much each club spent in their promotion year. Please note that these figures were assembled using a variety of websites such as SkySports, transfermarkt.co.uk, soccerbase.com and news reports. When transfer fees were not disclosed, the last known rumoured price was used (often preceding the actual deal by only hours). This means the figures aren’t 100% accurate; however, they are as close to accurate as can be found online or without detailed knowledge of a club’s inner workings. Loans are not included.  It is broken down according to how much a club spent on goalkeepers, defence, midfield and forwards.

Key: K = thousand, M = million, F = free transfer, Y = graduated club’s youth academy, N = nominal fee. All figures in pounds.  Only players given a squad number this season included (eg. no Cook, Rowlands or Vine for QPR). This table includes estimates for the price paid by Blackpool for David Carney and Neal Eardley.

Championship Winner Automatic Promotion Playoffs Winner
Year 2010 2011 2010 2011 2010 2011


QPR West Brom Norwich Blackpool Swansea
Years in Championship 1 7 1 1 3 3
Plyrs in on Promotion: 5 4 7 5 10 4
Spent when Promoted 9.5M 1.25M 7.6M 8.6M 3.85M* 8.75M
Spent Year before 5.15M 4.05M 3.1M 3.025M 500K 1.75M
Squad Academy Graduates 5 4 Nil 3 1 3
Highest fee paid for current plyr: 10.3M (Coloccini) 3.5M (Faurlin) 3M      (Brunt) 2.8M (Morison) 1.2M (Campbell) 3.5M (Graham)
Squad FTs: 5 9 6 5 12 9
GK Spend 0 750 000 3.25 Million 100 000 0 1.5 Million
DF Spend 19.35M 2.45M 11.1M 2.125M 1.675M 400K
MID Spend 29.2M 8.3M 6.55M 3.35 M 2.325M 3.985M
Fwd Spend 11.2M 3.4M 9.2M 8.4M 1.29M 6.7M
Total: 59.75M 14.9M 30.1M 13.98M 5.29M 12.185M
Avg p/player: 2.39M 596K 1.2M 559K 211.6K 487.4K

Matthew Wood regularly contributes to Soccerlens.  You can find more of his analysis and commentary at Balanced Sports, or follow him on Twitter @balanced_sports.