FOR a fair number of the Championship’s constituents in 2015-16, the time to be dining out at the Premier League table will most definitely be next summer.
With the scarcely-believeable record £5.136bn three-year TV deal for top-flight rights kicking in next season – when even the bottom club will net £99m in central prize money – it is small wonder that many rolled the dice during the transfer window that was aided by the slight relaxation of Financial Fair play (FFP) rules too.
The promise of riches in the Premier League is something that has clearly not been lost upon the Yorkshire quartet of Sheffield Wednesday, Leeds United, Middlesbrough and Hull City either.
Activity in the summer transfer window, which closed at 6pm yesterday, has led all four to be justifiably emboldened about the next eight months or so at any rate.
Wednesday were the significant movers on the incoming front with Dejphon Chansiri sanctioning seven-figure deals to sign Lucas Joao, Marco Matias and Fernando Forestieri, although they could not gild their signings spree with a marquee deadline-day capture.
But a total of 15 signings and the ambition shown has significantly moved the goalposts from last summer when the £800,000 signing of Stevie May was deemed as a major statement of intent following a tardy close-season after Hafiz Mammadov’s abortive takeover.
Former Owls chairman Milan Mandaric had only loosened the purse strings after a deal to sell Michael Antonio to Nottingham Forest, with the Hillsborough hierarchy rather more proactive in their manoeuvring this year.
Some names are well known in the likes of Forestieri and Lewis McGugan, although others are less so and it remains to be seen how they acclimatise to the muck and nettles of Championship life.
Many would venture that there is a passing resemblance to the recruitment up the M1 at Leeds this time 12 months ago although, in mitigation, the Owls have a clutch of players clearly proven at this level. Time will tell.
As for Leeds, it is clear as day that their recruitment has been a breath of fresh air from last summer when their League of Nations policy to bring in a host of largely unproven players from the continent and beyond had mixed results and smacked of a scattergun approach and a slightly naive one at that.
This time around, United’s business has been far more structured and strategic, with yesterday’s completion of a deal to sign winger Jordan Botaka – their first signing since the Championship season got underway – topping off a smooth summer which has seen them spend over £5m.
It has been one in which signings have arrived in orderly fashion and been integrated fully into the first-team squad. All a far cry from the start of 2014-15 when the club sanctioned eight new additions after their first game of the campaign.
Meanwhile, the difference between luxuriating in Premier League life and slumming it, comparatively speaking, back in the Championship has never been better exemplified than at Hull.
In comparison with 12 months ago on deadline day, their latest experiences were the polar opposite.
Last year, the Tigers forked out around £13.5m to bring in club record signing Abel Hernandez and Mo Diame on a day when Hatem Ben-Arfa and Gaston Ramirez also arrived.
Those last 24 hours of activity took their summer spending soaring towards the £40m mark.
The tactics this time around were decidedly more defensive as they sought to keep hold of the likes of Diame, Michael Dawson and Ahmed Elmohamady. Thankfully, with success as far as Tigers fans are concerned.
For the second consecutive summer, Middlesbrough have loosened the purse strings with the addition of Stewart Downing, Christian Stuani and Dave Nugent for a combined total of up to £14.5m.
The fees spent by Boro, the Owls, Leeds and Hull – with the latter still managing to spend around £6.5m this window on Moses Odubajo, Sam Clucas and deadline-day signing Adama Diomande despite cutting their cloth following relegation, are in totally different stratospheres to those that Rotherham United and Huddersfield Town could envisage shelling out.
Both completed a number of deals, but most were pretty small beer compared with their rivals.
For Town in particular, there is plenty to mull over this morning and much of it is pretty indigestible following a difficult window which has seen the club lose three leading players in Alex Smithies, Conor Coady and Jacob Butterfield, with no major reinvestment in the squad.
Down below in League One, Doncaster Rovers, Bradford City and Barnsley can reflect on solid work in the window, with the former’s transactions a welcome departure from the scramble for signings in the previous two summers at the Keepmoat.
Barnsley’s business in signing several talented loanees – and keeping hold of Conor Hourihane – will have also gone down well with the Oakwell faithful.
While business was relatively quiet at Bramall Lane, their squad is still the envy of most in League One, with plenty of provision to enter the emergency loan market, which opens next Wednesday, if need be.