LEEDS UNITED’S head coach Garry Monk believes the rate of spending in English football is increasing so fast that some Championship clubs will be spending up to £100m per season within “two to three years”.
The new Football League campaign gets under way tonight when Newcastle United travel to Fulham.
Rafael Benitez’s men, the bookmakers’ favourites to win instant promotion back to the Premier League, have invested heavily this summer with £12m spent on Matt Ritchie, the Bournemouth winger, and a further £10.2m on Crystal Palace striker Dwight Gayle.
Another £20m or so has been splashed on Blackburn Rovers’ Grant Hanley, Ghent goalkeeper Matz Sels, Aston Villa defender Ciaran Clark and Mohamed Diame, who this week joined from Hull City.
Other clubs in the second tier have also been busy in the transfer market and Monk believes the new £8bn TV Premier League deal that kicks in this season means the sums being lavished are only going to get bigger and bigger.
“The Championship is probably the hardest league in the world,” said the Leeds chief when speaking exclusively to The Yorkshire Post. “And especially in terms of getting promoted from.
“There are just three places up for grabs and a lot of big teams going for it. You only have to look at the money being spent to see what is at stake.
“Newcastle are the obvious example, but there are others also spending huge amounts of money. I am sure that in two, maybe three years’ maximum, you will be seeing clubs coming down and spending £100m in a Championship season.
“It feels incredible to say that, but I honestly believe that will be the case in two or three years’ time. That makes things incredibly difficult, but I just see it as a challenge.”
Monk has made seven additions to the Elland Road squad since succeeding Steve Evans in June. Kemar Roofe has been the marquee signing, for £3m from Oxford United, while Swedish forward Marcus Antonsson cost £1.6m from Kalmar FF.
Former England goalkeeper Rob Green arrived on a free transfer along with loanees Kyle Bartley, Matt Grimes, Hadi Sacko and Pablo Hernandez.
Heading the list of departures from Elland Road is Lewis Cook, whose £6m switch to Bournemouth means United’s transfer spending is in surplus with a little under four weeks of the window remaining.
Just how quickly the new players will gel remains to be seen but Monk admits the Championship can be an unforgiving competition.
“I certainly can’t think of another league where you have so many candidates to win it before a ball is kicked,” he added.
“The competition is huge. That is what sets the Championship apart.
“Some have two that are obvious. or four or five who are going to be there or thereabouts.
“But the Championship? You can probably go for as many as 15, and then there are surprise packages on top of that.”
Leeds kick off their season with a trip to Queens Park Rangers on Sunday in a high noon contest that will be shown live on Sky.
Both teams had a distinctly average 2015-16 with Rangers finishing 13th with 60 points, one point and one place higher than United.
Neither are exactly fancied by the bookmakers to shine this time around with their respective odds being very much in the mid-table rankings.
The Leeds hierarchy, however, have raised the stakes with a season ticket offer that will see fans refunded a portion of their outlay if the club fail to finish in the top six.
Considering the strength of the division with Sheffield Wednesday, Norwich City, Derby County, Brighton & Hove Albion and Aston Villa all expected to mount a challenge to overwhelming favourites Newcastle, such a move is undoubtedly a bold one.
As for the head coach charged with delivering on that promise, Monk is in relaxed mood.
“That ambition (a place in the top six) is what we all share,” he said. “We don’t want to get away from that, not at this club.
“But let’s be realistic, too. This is a big challenge, but one we will embrace. The way I will approach it is to take each game as it comes along. QPR and three points is my only focus right now.
“After that, we look to the next game. I don’t set targets like x-amount of points from 10 games or 20 games.
“Just focus on each game as it comes along. Assess afterwards and have an opinion, but then regroup for the next game and give it everything.
“It is the only way to operate in a league this long and tough. If you don’t make a target, it creates pressure. If you do, it can create complacency. I don’t want that.
“We have ambition and want to be in the Premier League next year and the only way to do that focus 100 per cent on what needs to be done.”