The Reason Leeds United Can’t Have Nice Things? Wage Structure   –   by Rob Atkinson


History is repeating itself down Elland Road way, and it’s getting annoyingly boring. It goes like this: Player with obvious potential arrives at Leeds United having not quite done it elsewhere. Player develops and gains confidence through regular football. Player has a brilliant season (or, more rarely, two brilliant seasons) and becomes a Whites legend. Media note with disapproval that player is doing well at Leeds, and relentlessly hype-up “wantaway” stories. Player’s “head is turned”. Leeds offer player new contract at approx 50% of what he could get elsewhere. Player is sold to club of embarrassingly lower historical status. Fans distraught and humiliated. Rinse and repeat.

This is the scenario currently playing itself out with Chris Wood, who had a fabulous season last year without necessarily having eradicated the flaws in his game that stopped him succeeding at the top level. It looks as though Wood, understandably by his own lights, wishes to quadruple his current earnings by participating in the relegation fight of Burnley FC, instead of fighting for promotion with Leeds United. Forty years ago, this would have been inconceivable – but back then football was a whole different sport. Imagine in 1974/75 First Division Carlisle United swooping for Second Division Man U‘s top scorer. The press would have poured scorn on any such notion. But it happens these days; minnows feed off sharks. It’s all about money, folks.

Leeds United, under new ownership, has done a lot of good things amid an atmosphere of renewed optimism. That atmosphere is about to be dissipated by the cold wind of an unwelcome reality check. Twitter is all aflutter about the increasingly strong rumours of Wood’s departure, and suggestions as to his replacement are many, but almost all sadly unfeasible. Sign Danny Ings, they say. Or Peter Crouch, or Jordan Rhodes. But the pesky elephant in the room, poised ready to sit on and squash any such fanciful notions, is the Leeds United wage structure.

In short, the wage structure is the factor that prevents the Whites from competing at the top end of even the Championship transfer market. Despite a lot of wishful thinking that players will flock to sign for the Leeds United brand, Super Leeds, the Revie Boys, Champions of Europe and all that, the annoying truth is that said players are only really interested in the bottom line on their sleek, fat contracts. All else is whimsy. The players want megabucks, and the parsimonious Yorkshireness of the LUFC wage structure doesn’t cater for such munificence.

And that is the sad truth, folks. Beyond which I’m a little too soul-destroyed right now to go much further. Wood will depart and, whatever transfer fee we receive, the reinvestment of that sum will be affected by the wages we are prepared to offer any potential like-for-like replacement. And that’s why we can’t have a Jordan Rhodes, a Danny Ings, or even a Nahki Wells. Because, unlike Middlesbrough, Wolves and even Sheffield Wednesday, we tend to shy away in thrifty horror at paying the going rate. That’s why we’re still in the second sphere, and will most likely languish there still when our proud centenary rolls around. That’s why we can’t have nice things.

We’re just too damned stingy, and that’s the real bottom line.

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42 responses to “The Reason Leeds United Can’t Have Nice Things? Wage Structure   –   by Rob Atkinson

  1. I don’t think leeds are stingy, we play by uefa ffp rules, and if we didn’t it’d be a game you could only play for a very short time, either your cash flow wouldn’t permit it, or you’d end up with a hefty penalty (see aston villa)

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  2. Sorry Rob totally disagree. MacCarthy at Ipswich has stated in the media that he could not sign Dave due to his wages, same as Cough at Burton.

    We had to pay off Bellusci to get him to move on and let Marco go for nothing for the same reason. We pay players more than most other Championship clubs.

    Of course we cannot compete with Prem clubs yet, we do not get the £100+ million Sky money.

    Wage structures are there to stop discontent in a squad. If we paid Wood £50k per week what about Pontus? Ayling? Vierra? Saiz? Pablo?

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  3. wetherby white

    same old story Rob as another quality player drifts away from ER. Weve had big money in from countless sales over the years and it has NEVER been spent on players of a similar or better standard. That’s why we stay exactly where we are. If or when Wood goes..then what. Thrash around in the foreign market again and hope for the best..as usual? Another dark day for this club.

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  4. I agree Rob bum sides coming to get the rich pickings down through the years.
    We are vastly becoming a joke we are now like a feeder club which I’m sorry to say is a fact.
    I understand the club went into meltdown in 2004 and the Leeds fans understand this because ther was no business plan in place.
    Now we have an educated owner with a business plan in place and in order to accumulate you have to speculate he knows.
    When Wood is sold our next step from the owner will be very significant one in terms of where we are and where were going.
    Let’s hope it’s a statement of intent.
    Hopefully as you say this wage structure in place can modified to get the players in we need.
    Do you think this will happen Rob

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  5. Ropey Wyla

    Never mind Rob, we will get there, for now, Wood moves on and so do we, It may be cliché but in truth I wouldn’t want Leeds to pay him or any one else more than £15000 a week, especially when we’re in the second tier, it’s bloody obscene when nurses and fire fighters get beggar all comparatively.

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    • Totally true – it’s Catch-22 for a football fanatic socialist, believe you me.

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      • Ropey Wyla,with all due respect,this is not about firemen or nurses,come on,keep your politics out.this isn’t the point.many of us agree but that isn’t relevant to the post,it not the subject.and you know it too..
        Rob,I totally agree that we won’t be able to attract the right players by paying them far less than other CL clubs pay for their players.and in Wood’s case,it a scandal that they did not offer him an Immediate pay rise that reflected his value.
        asking for 20 million,hyping up his value, yet paying a wage of a player not worth 20 million or not even 5 million was quite ridiculous. can’t have your cake and at it,and we cannot expect top players to join us if there is a reputation for paying low wages compared to the other clubs in the CL..
        Players are happy to hang around for a smaller wage for a couple of years,but if they do not see much chances of getting into the PL,they will always end up leaving..we really haven’t learned anything from the last decade or so.
        thank you Rob,great post

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      • Be nice to my socialist readers, I treasure them 😉

        Liked by 1 person

  6. Stingy, or sound business minds?
    The promised land of Premier League is where you can make money, as a club and as a player. Leeds clearly has a focus on the ratio of wage/revenue. Reports documented this summer, that Leeds is one of the few clubs who has that balance. A wage structure is called for, to keep harmony in the squad as well.
    On the other hand, if you need to compete with clubs paying over their head, for promotion to the promised land, you need to be smart and daring. Huddersfield was the good example, I believe.

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  7. We’ve spent the last 15 years paying the penalty of the Ridsdale approach to football – “let’s stick it all on black”. And much as I hate the press, Wood put himself in the shop window by topping the 2nd division scoring charts last season …. like McCormack before him, he wants to turn last year’s goals into hard cash, even if it means feeding on the scraps that he’ll get at Burnley.

    The Taylor saga was a distraction for all of last season, so if Wood wants to go I think he’s better out of ER sooner rather than later. And if Barca can’t keep hold of Neymar, what chance do we have when the agents are at work???

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  8. Mike Durham

    I feel so bloody gutted at the moment Rob but at the same time somewhat encouraged that LUFC’s heirachy feel confident that we are on a par with Barcelona and can play without a number 9!
    We all knew this was going to happen but for £15m? Absolutely derisory in my humble opinion….
    Unfortunately, we all know that “it’s just a job” to most players nowadays 😰

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  9. Your assumption may be wrong:Wood may just want to play under a good Manager in an improving Premiership team rather than stay at a club with an unproven Manager and an owner who has implied that promotion this season is not a priority and for whose steep learning curve we appear to be paying.

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  10. Philip of Spain.

    We all feel the same Rob.Its a Leeds desease,soon as we take the medicine and feel better,more confident and relaxed,a dose of melancholy comes along.We just have to take it and see.A win tonight with three different scorers would help.We just have to suck it and see,Again!!

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  11. Rob, it’s just crass bad management. We should have offered Wood a lucrative 4 year contract in May or June rather than trying to keep him on the cheap because he had two years of contract left.
    I’m not saying it would have prevented offers coming in but the player himself may have been less inclined to want a move and we could have battered them away.
    Once we put a 20 million price tag on him it was like a come and get me sale notice. Then we compound it by offering him a three year extension to show we tried. You can’t blame Wood IMO even if it is Burnley again. The sad fact is both they and hudders are in the Premiership and we are not. If you want to get there you need one or two srar players who have to be paid accordingly.
    I know it is all ridiculously out of proportion when we have people sleeping rough and I hate to accept it but this is the reality.

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  12. Most of the players think they are better than they are. How many have left, and failed to reach the heights anticipated.playing for sides arguably little better us. Howson, McCormack, Johnson and Snodgrass, have done OK, but all have been moved on at least once, and hardly reached the heights they did with us. Cook, probably will, but Byram must regret leaving as he has found game time limited to say the least. Not sure if Snodgrass asked to go, HOwston didn’t, and McCormack only asked after Cellino sacked McDermott and appointed an inexperienced, budget, replacement.

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  13. I believe Leeds are paying good Championship wages. We cannot compete when PL clubs come knocking. Anybody in any walk of life would jump ship if offered an opportunity to quadruple there wages.
    The policy of the club is to look on the continent for players of good quality who will fit in with the clubs pay structure. Time will tell if this is a successful strategy.
    Personally, although we will initially miss Woods, this may be a blessing in disguise. The way Christianson wants to play is at pace, Woods isn’t the quickest. I think they will pick up a couple of good quality strikers for the money who may suit this way better.
    Also don’t write off Ekuban. He is young and raw but he is quick and can finish.

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  14. Scally Lad

    We’re going to have to wait for promotion for this to change. Huddersfield Town will probably get a windfall of around £200 million from their promotion this year. There’s simply no way we can restructure wage packets until we get to the Prem.

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  15. kevin mcgarrigle

    so how did Huddersfield manage it last year? it wasn’t a freak of nature, you don’t need to beg players to pull out their tripe, surely David Wagner and his board weren’t paying out astronomical wages to each and every one of his players
    I can’t fault Woods for accepting a huge wage increase, how many of us would refuse that request.
    They, being the players, are living the dream that many a kid would love whether it be in the Premiership or div 2,
    When all is said and done, every player is mercenary with absolutely no loyalty to anyone regardless of what the individual will state in the daily rag.
    I wish him all the best but without any doubt he will struggle in the Premiership, he will be lucky to get serious game time and Mr Dyche will get the sack for wasting £15 mill, guaranteed.

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  16. I’m actually getting quite immune to all these players being poached by makeweight Prem teams. It will continue whilst Leeds play below the top level. I actually think Woods’ sale is an opportunity to try a diiferent approach re our attacking options. Two up top perhaps?
    Also we don’t really know of the potential within our squad as Wood quite rightly was an automatic pick and who knows who the replacement might be? Gayle from Newcastle for me but as you have stated wages could be an issue.

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  17. Good riddance to anyone who dosn’t want to play for Leeds or manage them for that matter. As I have mentioned before I had doubts about Monk last season and although wood scored 30 he should have had 50,I watched wood playing for Newzeland and he missed a hatfull as he has done this season for Leeds 15 mil take it, I admit I have hindsight after todays game, that was the best team display since Derby at home last season.
    On a different note, what are your views on ticketing fior our away matches in half empty stadiums, surely it is common sense to allocate us more tickets so more dedicated leeds fans can enjoy the game and pour more money into the game as well.

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    • A Wearside radio station rang me the other day for a preview comment, and I asked them about the small allocation. They said something about a fixed percentage, but they did sound slightly embarrassed.

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  18. I for one am not despondent at Woods departure,sod him. He’s had ONE good season and that’s it. He can’t forage for the ball and it needs to be on a plate for him to score and judging by tonight’s performance we don’t need him. I felt he slowed us down as well as missing some crucial chances,particularly in his last games for us. He and Burnley are in for a rude awakening when both parties realise he’s out of his depth. £15 for that plank of wood? Yes please! Now lets see who replaces him. And for anyone thinking we have it bad,just look at Sunderland. There was an exodus out of the ground when Dallas got the second with 20 mins to go. That’s a club with problems,we’re going up this season and we’ll pass Wood,Judas and Burnley on their way down. Very impressed tonight.

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    • Good to hear you so upbeat – and having seen tonight’s display, I think you might be right.

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    • Paul Pearson

      Very well said, I’v never rated Wood he should have put away 50 goals last season with all the assists that he got, not to mention the sloppy finishing, oh, and the games where he didn’t play…we won.

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  19. Your disappointment at the sale of Wood is understandable however the shape and style of the team has all been about Wood. I think Woods scoring saved us many times last year but was also a contributing factor to some poor performances particularly when a team is unbalanced to favour one target man. I was more than impressed by the 30 odd goals last season but am I the only one that thinks that the same again might not have been achieved by Wood. Personally I am sad to see Wood go but I do feel that we are getting closer to a more balanced team where goals can come from several sources. The evidence of today seems that having more strength and depth to the squad is the way forward rather than reliance on one. Cheer up mate it will come good if we spend even some of the money wisely. Personally I think 15 Million is nuts but that’s the game these days.

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  20. NickB(50yrsLU)

    As Christiansen said after the match, it’s the team that matters, not one individual. I think Wood’s dominant presence in previous league matches this campaign overwhelmed and inhibited some of the new recruits, and made everyone choke in the two goalless draws – not least, Wood himself, who was unable to cope with being watched by Burnley scouts. With him refusing to play today, there was such freedom and quick flow up front. That Alioski/Saiz partnership could be the big Championship talking point this season. Wood has not been the same since after the last international break, when there were unsubstantiated rumours that he’d been injured. I won’t be at all surprised if he, like McCormack before him, proves to have been a one-season wonder and fails to make any impact in the Premiership. Like you, I was initially despairing when I heard confirmation that he was going, but as the day has worn on, I’ve come round to the view that this could prove excellent business, and that we will be a more balanced and flexible team without him. With previous owners, this would all have been expected, but I’m convinced the big difference here is that the vast majority of the proceeds will go into strengthening yet further, or perhaps buying back Thorp Arch. It should be noted, though, that the two top teams tonight have hardly spent anything this summer; most of Cardiff’s new recruits are freebies – the list of names and costs shown on the Channel 5 show looked remarkably like the motley crew Warnock assembled when he arrived at Elland Road. By the way, Cooper is rapidly regaining my respect – he took a bad knock against Preston, but played on bravely; and today’s header off the line was magnificent.

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  21. After reading your post, Rob, I checked today’s stats on our traitors. Taylor and Byram were unused subs and Cook unlisted at Bournemouth (is he injured?). There is nothing we can do about our home grown talent lusting after the great wealth offered by any premier league club, be they Burnley, West Ham or Bournemouth. Awful as it is to us, our nurtured successes would rather sit on a plastic bench every Saturday than play every week gaining promotion for the club that created them.

    Let them go. They’ll go anyway. Maybe this time we have an owner and manager who, together, have the nouse to mobilise a squad capable of promotion before several key players demand the premier league. Today’s performance at Sunderland gives me hope.

    I know I sound naive but as I’m also a Revie era socialist football nut, present at the 1975 European Cup Final, Paris, I believe it’s possible to gain promotion, as Revie did, from highly motivated and loyal players of whom little is expected. They have to be talented, of course, but didn’t it look today as if that combination of management, ownership and talent was on display at Sunderland? I can’t attest to the loyalty, I agree.

    I am optimistic this season but then….. I always am.

    Marching on together,

    Anne

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  22. Karl Major

    I’m not quite as optimistic as Mick about going up this season, I hope so but the championship is a tough league. However, 8 points from 4 games and 3 consecutive clean sheets is pretty good, if we kept that up we would get automatic promotion as Champions. Fingers crossed.
    Wood is being foolish and going for the money at a club who will always struggle in the prem. He still needs to develop his game quite a bit to become a decent premier league quality striker. At Burnley he will compete with Vokes who has developed in recent years and Wood may end up as a bench warmer.
    He reminds me a bit of Lee Chapman who couldn’t make it at Arsenal and moved from club to club until eventually his game developed and at a relatively mature age became a top striker for Leeds.To do that he needed to play, Wood should have stuck with us, developed a bit more, ironed out some of his flaws and then hit the Prem when he was ready (with us).
    The performance at Sunderland was terrific, if that’s a sign of things to come the futures bright. Oh! And I love the development of the business (the Asian connections etc.) Like a proper Premier league club. Good foundations being laid.
    Also, much as I don’t like our players being sold, it makes financial sense to flog overpriced British (or NZ) players and bring in talented cheaper foreigners (Bye Bye Bridcutt). Time will tell if it is good footballing sense.
    Keep the blogs coming Rob, good stuff…
    MOT

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  23. Chris Wheeler

    Hi Rob

    Interesting article but in reality we simply can’t compete with the mega bucks tv money paid to these minnows in the Premier League. I can’t believe that a televised match between say Burnley & Bournemouth is going to attract anywhere near the viewers for last nights match or probably any Leeds fixture and until Sky level the playing field a bit this issue of us being a feeder club will continue.
    In terms of wage structure we are also up against around 12 teams in the Championship that are still getting parachute money! FFP is a myth to me!
    Having said all this I thought the team played great last night and the forward line looked much more dynamic and mobile without the traditional big target man so I think we may look for a more pacey mobile striker to fit our quicker pass and move game where unlike last season under Monk our possession stats are looking way better this season.
    Good luck to Chris Wood at Burnley but as Christiansen said Leeds is way bigger than one player. MOT

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  24. Can’t do that, Mick, sorry. Can’t afford to get sued.

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  25. Swiss Martin

    I have a question some of you may no, Was Leicester paying huge wages when they went up to the Premier league?

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  26. At times you’re a right miserable sod Rob.
    Hey ho Woods gone and we’re £ 15,000,000 better off .We became one dimensional last year , and the last 10 games teams had worked us out , we had no plan B .
    We’re playing a brighter , faster style of football and we’re 5th , so cmon Rob positive vibes . MOT

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    • You’re right. This is what comes of striking while the iron is hot, and writing something while in the throes of depression over bad news. 24 hours later I was much more upbeat and hoping the Wood deal would go through. It’s a proper roller coaster following Leeds. I promise something more positive next time.

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  27. to be honest i’m more bothered about Bridcutt leaving , he wanted to be part of this team and were selling to a championship rival, wood doesn’t suit our style now, as billy said, made us one dimensional, good luck in the premiership ,

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    • Heard a few saying similar things, Mr. O.

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      • Nah,I wouldn’t worry about Bridcutt either lads,no technique. Look at the way the current crop control and move the ball,even Pontus. Bridcutt was ok but too muscular and like Wood a little clumsy. I would be more worried if we’d lost Philips or Viera. Good luck to him though apart from next Weekend. Goodness me though,we seem to be getting rid of players like Tesco is getting rid of its pork products.

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      • Give you that one Mick, you persistent git 😆

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  28. Pingback: Leeds United End of Term Report: Disappointing, Must do Better – by Rob Atkinson | Life, Leeds United, the Universe & Everything

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