In the last week there has been much said about Reading Football Club's finances and ability to operate in the January transfer window. We at the Tilehurst End got in on the act with our debate on the players who have contracts running out at the end of the season.
If by coincidence, the Reading Post today revealed that last year the club's previous owners, Reading Football Club (Holdings) PLC, had staff costs of £13,679,109, which included 53 players and 102 management and coaching staff, as well as 373 further staff members.
As we mentioned in our report on the story, the figure for the staff costs looks rather low when you consider that back in 2006 the club spent £22 million on wages. The low figure might be explained by it possibly only including the wages paid once the holding company was the majority shareholder of the club.
Not surprisingly these figures started a discussion at the Tilehurst End on a topic that never goes too long without being discussed by football fans: players' wages! Now unfortunately none of us have access to that sort of information, though I dare say most fans have heard hearsay about certain Reading players.
With all this in mind we decided to have a look at how much Football Manager and FIFA think the players earn. Football Manager has thousands of researchers and its database is now used by professional clubs through Prozone. They will be guessing like the rest of us, but pride themselves on the level of research that goes into their game.
It is interesting to see a consistency in Reading's players' reported wages in their last three editions. This perhaps suggests that their researchers are confident in their guesstimates.
It is of course important to remember that these figures are only estimates. They also fail to include the no doubt numerous bonuses (from appearances, goals, assists, clean sheets, loyalty, etc.) that the players receive.
Here are the figures below, with the players in order of their weekly wages as given by Football Manager 2015:
|Royston Drenthe||£21,000||£21,130||£27,000 *||£25,000|
|Danny Williams||£18,750||£18,750||£17,500 *||£20,000|
|Glenn Murray||£17,500||£17,500 *||£10,000 *||£15,000|
|Anton Ferdinand||£15,000||£15,213 *||£40,000 *||£20,000|
|Jamie Mackie||£15,000||£15,000 *||£17,500 *||£10,000|
|Simon Cox||£10,000||£10,000 *||£10,000 *||£10,000|
|Oliver Norwood||£10,000||£4,000 *||£4,000 *||£8,000|
|TOTAL||£327,100||* - PLAYER NOT AT CLUB||£265,500|
|PLAYERS OUT OF CONTRACT||£166,225||£148,000|
The most noticeable figure is the huge difference between Football Manager's and FIFA's guesstimated wages: £61,600 a week or £3,203,200 a year.
FIFA's figures correspond with those mentioned in Reading Post's report. But does anyone really believe that the combined weekly wage of Stephen Kelly, Pavel Pogrebnyak and Hal Robson-Kanu is just £22,000?
Football Manager's figures look more believable. I would expect Adam Federici and Chris Gunter to be higher up the list, but overall most players are where I would expect them to be.
Pogrebnyak's rumoured £30,000 a week looks a lot more realistic figure than the £60,000 often bandied about. It's still a ridiculous figure when you consider that the average wage in the Championship is just under £10,000 a week.
The £12,000 a week figure for Hope Akpan and Nick Blackman is eye watering, but did come at a time when the club seemingly lost all sense when it came to players' wages. How else to explain the 400% and 367% pay rises supposedly given to Hal Robson-Kanu and Alex Pearce. David Robson-Kanu must be one hell of an agent!
The other thing that grabbed my attention was the fact that over half of the wage budget is made up of players who don't have contracts beyond next summer. It's not hard to imagine that such a figure may be true, and it explains why the club will probably play the waiting game when it comes to incoming transfers.
When you see the (guesstimated) figures for Simon Cox and Oliver Norwood, it leaves you with hope that the club might be able to successfully rebuild the squad. If we estimate that the duo cost £1.35m in transfer fees combined, then Reading could potentially afford four similar players with the savings from the annual wages of Royston Drenthe, That's all easier said than done of course.
If we did know the players' wages then I dare say a few fans might have changed their opinion when they gave their verdict on which out-of-contract players they would like to stay at the club. We at the Tilehurst End believe in democracy, but like many a former Soviet republic, we're happy to turn a blind eye if you want to vote a second time. If you haven't voted yet, please do.
Let us know below what you think about the figures above, and which players you think the club should be offering new deals to.
All figures in this article are taken from FIFA 15, the Football Manager series and Reading Post.