Portsmouth CEO says Ipswich, Wigan and Sunderland are 'spending huge money'

Portsmouth chief executive Andrew Cullen. Photo: MK Dons

Portsmouth chief executive Andrew Cullen says Ipswich Town, Sunderland and Wigan Athletic are 'spending huge money'. Photo: MK Dons - Credit: MK Dons

New Portsmouth chief executive Andrew Cullen says Ipswich Town are one of three clubs 'spending huge money' in League One this season.

Cullen, who was recruited from MK Dons to replace the long-serving Mark Catlin last month, has been charged with getting Pompey's finances back on track in the wake of the coronavirus crisis.

Speaking at the Tony Goodall Fans' Conference recently, he said: "The Championship is in danger of imploding, as clubs struggle in the aftermath of the pandemic!

"Look at the interest in football clubs at the moment – new owners are mainly buying clubs in League One.

"You can do something with a Sunderland, a Wigan or an Ipswich, whereas Championship owners are getting burnt fingers, throwing so much money at it to get to the Premier League.

"Some owners are finding they can no longer do that as their own businesses suffered during the pandemic. In League One, there are three clubs spending huge money - Wigan Ipswich, Sunderland.

"Only three clubs will go up, and experience suggests that not all three of those will. So at least one could be in a tricky situation in the year after next."

The Portsmouth News estimates that the south coast club made losses of around £700k per month last season and manager Danny Cowley has already spoken of operating on a reduced budget for 2021/22.

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First-teamers regulars Craig MacGillivray (Charlton, free), Jack Whatmough (Wigan, free), Tom Naylor (Wigan, free), Ben Close (Doncaster, free), Ryan Williams (Oxford Utd, free) and Andy Cannon (Hull City, free) have all departed Fratton Park at the end of their contracts, with Gavin Bazunu (Man City, loan), Liam Vincent (Bromley, undisc), Clark Robertson (Rotherham, free), Ryan Tunnicliffe (Luton, free) and Shaun Williams (Millwall, free) the summer recruits so far.

Portsmouth manager Danny Cowley during the Sky Bet League One match at the Montgomery Waters Meadow,

Portsmouth manager Danny Cowley. Photo: PA - Credit: PA

Cowley recently said: "I’m just going to do my best with what I’m given. I’m going to do my very best with what I’ve got. There’s no way, no way I’m going to moan about finance in these circumstances.

"The club have done brilliantly and they are really good owners, honestly.

"They are just bright and intelligent - it’s the rest of football which need to look at themselves. It’s just barmy

"I don’t know where our budget is going to stand, it’s going to be less than what it was.

"On the benchmarking, we were sixth (highest budget in League One last season). I’ve got a feeling everyone else is going to be less than what they were. It’s going to be really tough.

"My gut feeling, and I don’t know, is we’re going to be about the same as where we were, about sixth.

"There’s going to be a few big clubs in this division. But whatever finance we’ve had in the past, we’ve been able to add value."

Ipswich Town's new US-based owners, who completed their takeover in April, have made their ambitions clear.

However, while resources are not an issue for Gamechanger 20 Ltd, the Salary Cost Management Protocol (SCMP) rules still restrict them to spending a maximum of 60% of turnover on wages.

Mark Detmer has made it clear that 'it's not just about capital, it’s about culture', with fellow co-owner Berke Bakay saying money will be spent in 'a smart, intelligent, not wasteful manner'.

The Blues have paid out a six-figure sum to sign West Brom midfielder Rekeem Harper and are working on ambitious deals for Rotherham's Matt Crooks and Dijon's Bersant Celina.

However, they have also bagged a £1m fee for midfielder Andre Dozzell and also vastly reduced the wage bill, with 20 first team players having departed in total since the end of last season. More are set to follow as Paul Cook completely rebuilds a squad that limped to a ninth-place finish.

Wigan, under Bahraini group Phoenix 2021 Limited, have been very active in the transfer market, signing Jordan Cousins (Stoke, free), Tom Naylor (Portsmouth, free), Gwion Edwards (Ipswich, free), Max Power (Sunderland, free), Jack Whatmough (Portsmouth, free) and Ben Amos (Charlton, free). 

Sunderland, under new French owner Kyril Louis-Dreyfus, are yet to sign a player this transfer window though.

Charlton were taken over by Dane Thomas Sandgaard last September and finished the season strongly under new manager Nigel Adkins. So far they have signed Jayden Stockley (Preston, undisc), Craig MacGillivray (Portsmouth, free) and George Dobson (Sunderland, free).

Cullen's words echo those of Oxford United manager Karl Robinson, who recently said: "We have a transfer pot available which is brilliant, but we’re probably going to be in the same position in the (spending) league. 

“We’re having to spend to stay anywhere near. 

“There are teams in our league offering £10,000 a week for defenders (an apparent swipe at Ipswich's attempts to sign Luton captain Sonny Bradley) and you’re thinking ‘this is ludicrous where this league is going’. 

“We can’t get anywhere near this.”