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Nicky Hammond Financial Fair Play Interview: What He Really Meant

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GetReading reporter Charles Watts has once again come up with the goods in his must read interview with Reading's director of football Nicky Hammond on what the Football League's Financial Fair Play rules could mean for the Royals. @WilliamOwain analyses the interview and picks out the most important quotes, and what Hammond really meant.

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CW - FFP is quite a confusing subject for people who don’t know too much about it, can you clear it up a bit?

We have posted [the 2013/2014] accounts and we believe that met the financial fair play criteria, therefore come January we should be in a position to be free to trade if we wish to do so.

Where we find ourselves now though is that we are in the 2014/15 season. We know what our liability is in terms of transfer fees, in terms of wage bill and for this coming season we will have to post our accounts in November 2015. And that’s where we are very, very tight.

So to go and spend significant money this coming January will potentially take us beyond where we need to be in terms of financial fair play and therefore in the future it may leave us open to a transfer embargo or a potential fine.

We (should) have passed the 2013/2014 FFP rules, just! Without selling Adam Le Fondre the club would have likely failed foul of the rules for last season.

The wage bill is still too high despite us losing Wayne Bridge, Kaspars Gorkss, Jobi McAnuff, Alex McCarthy, Sean Morrison, Mikele Leigertwood and Stuart Taylor. That tells you that a huge proportion of the money spent on wages must be going on only a few players who are still at the club.

Even the (first instalments from the) sales of McCarthy and Morrison have left things very tight for this season. Any significant spending in January would mean we would break the rules, so don't expect much activity.

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So although it seems like you have passed FFP for the 2013/14 season and you can spend money in January, basically what you are saying is if you did spend money then it would push you over the limit for 2014/15?

Correct. We find ourselves in a very tight position in regards to FFP.

And the message that I've been given very clearly, and rightly in my opinion, is that we are not going to break FFP because there are sanctions that come with that. Transfer embargoes and potential fines. The new owners are not going to go down that road.

There is some flex in terms of bringing players in, but not a lot.

That’s why for me, getting our young players the experience this year of 20/30 games at this level, is key.

We will definitely reap the dividends of that down the line, without a shadow of a doubt. As we did with Karacan, Robson-Kanu, etc.

Pure and simple. The new owners do not want to break FFP and neither Hammond, or Adkins, want to upset their bosses. If that means no signings in January, then there will be no signings in January.

Hammond's comments about young players being bedded in, may mean that the new owners see this as a season of transition. Adkins must be relieved.

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So what are the changes that will come into effect soon in terms of FFP?

My understanding is that they will be at a higher level than they are currently.

Take that and put it against the changes we will hopefully make in the summer in terms of the squad, we have players out of contract so there will be a reduction in the wage bill.

Then we will have a much better opportunity to change things.

The club believe that the rule changes agreed last month will give clubs more flexibility next season.

With eleven players out of contract next summer, there is a real chance to rebuild the squad properly, rather than doing a patchwork job in January that could also land the club in trouble. The players out of contract next summer should be worried for their futures!

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You talked about player contracts. There are obviously still some tough decisions to be made.

There are, of course. All of that sits within the FFP discussion.

Do you renew? Or do you let that those contracts run? Those are decisions as a football club you have to make.

It’s more difficult now because FFP has restricted us in that respect.

In my opinion those are discussions for after January because at the moment we are not where we want to be in terms of our league position.

We have an option on Chris Gunter for a further year, as we do with Jem Karacan.

That means we can extend their current contract.

Not surprisingly, Hammond is basically saying that none of the senior players out of contract have shown anything this season to justify being offered new deals. I don't think many fans will disagree.

Announcing that the club have an option on Gunter and Karacan could also be a warning to any clubs interested in the duo. If the club want them to stay then they can trigger the extension regardless of any offers from rival clubs.

The fact they haven't, may suggest they're hoping to entice the players to sign longer deals but on reduced terms.

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The Zingarevich contracts get a lot of headlines, Pavel Pogrebnyak, Royston Drenthe. You talk about the wage bill, those two take up a hefty chunk of it.

I think what we all agree on is that over the last couple of years we’ve done some contracts here that we wouldn’t have done previously.

There’s a fall out from that and that's something we have to deal with in a pragmatic and realistic way.

They were deals agreed by Zingarevich, and we're stuck with them.

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It sounds to me then like there could be quite big turnaround in players this summer then who are out of contract.

I’m not saying that for a moment. Don't get me wrong, we've got some good players who are out of contract here in the summer and we have to look at that, we have to find a balance.

There's a reason only Garath McCleary has been given a new contract. Can you read the Tilehurst End's articles listing the players out of contract and tell me that you would be rushing to give any of those players new deals?

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The one player who has signed a new contract, Garath McCleary, had a lot of interest in the summer. You haven't just given him a new contract so you can sell him at a higher price have you?

No. Garath McCleary has signed a new contract because he wants to be at Reading Football Club. That's the number one reason.

We signed him on a new contract because we don't want our best players potentially walking out the door on a free.

He was the only player out of contract who clubs were interested in and could have got a better offer than one from us. So they gave him a pay rise.

McCleary could have waited for better offers so his new contract must be a good one.

This is a massive hint that we will spend money, but only on players who justify it, and on deals that allow us to keep within FFP.

Hammond is also again suggesting that the club are not worried that any of the other players out of contract will get better offers elsewhere.

Maybe the club has learnt from 2012/2013, when it gave Shaun Cummings a new contract in December, despite it being likely if he moved away from the Royals it would be a step down, and there being sufficient doubts about him that they signed Stephen Kelly a month later.

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So just to be clear, you are not saying you definitely won’t spend money in January because of FFP, but you are saying it might be difficult?

What I’m saying is that we have very limited scope because of the wage bill that we carried forward from the last couple of years.

What he's saying is don't expect much, if anything to happen. The club want to wait till the summer when they can get rid of (lots of) expensive dead wood.

This maybe suggests that after a few years of reduced transfer activity, summer 2015 could be an interesting one for the Royals. It's hard to disagree with Hammond's view that it makes sense to lose unwanted high earners before bringing in new players.

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On Glenn Murray. Could someone still come in and still gazump you?

Someone can always offer more money. The key is the player and where he wants to go.

We have an option to buy, but at the same token Palace may convince the player to stay there, or someone else may come in for him. I know there is a degree of interest in Glenn.

So there is still a bit of work to be done to determine what will happen with him.

But I think for sure if we want to move forward with that deal in January, then the provision is there to do it.

To me this reads that the club are unsure on whether they want to spend a lot of money on Murray, and don't know if he even wants to stay.

Other clubs, though, may may make the decision for both parties. And that may suit both the club and Murray.

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What did you make of the interview? Are you worried at the prospect of little transfer activity in January? Or does it seem the club are back on track? Let us know your thoughts below...