Sheffield United chief executive Stephen Bettis defends parachute payment scheme and says it helps keep clubs solvent

Sheffield United chief executive Stephen Bettis says parachute payments are a necessary part of English football’s financial eco-system.

Thanks to them, and an innovative approach to contracts, Bettis insists the Blades can belatedly make their first summer signings without having to sell players first.

Hull City owner Acun Ilicali joined the debate last week, complaining about “such a big difference between the budgets of the Premier League and Championship”.

He was speaking after Tigers target Scott Twine received a better offer from Burnley - heavily in debt but with a post-relegation parachute payment. Hull are also set to miss out on free agent Jean Michael Seri, who Fulham bought for £25m and were able to keep for four years yo-yoing between the divisions.

Helping hand: Sheffield United chief executive Stephen Bettis, left, with manager Paul Heckingbottom. Picture: Simon Bellis/Sportimage

A Sheffield Hallam study found Championship clubs with parachute payments three times more likely than their rivals to win promotion between 2017 and 2021, compared to twice as likely in the previous 11 seasons. Both teams automatically promoted last season received them, as did third-placed Huddersfield Town, the play-off finalists.

It is why Football League chairman Rick Parry is a critic.

Clubs like the Blades facing a huge drop in income after relegation would be in dire trouble without them. Leeds United’s 2004 relegation and spiral into administration influenced their 2006 introduction.

“We would go bust if the parachute payments weren’t there, although we would have done things differently,” he says.

On the move?: Blades may be willing to sell Norway international midfielder Sander Berge. Picture: Simon Bellis / Sportimage

“I understand Rick’s point, it’s a massive drop between the Premier League and the Championship but the (proposed solutions) are all about the Premier League putting more money down the pyramid.

“Everyone knows we spent £120m, £130m on players in the Premier League but all of that wasn’t paid immediately so there’s still payments to be made and that’s what the parachute payments are there for.”

Clubs receive £43m in season one, £35m the next year and a third £16m payment unless they only had one top-flight season.

Their Championship rivals get around £4.5m from the Premier League. No European domestic league gives away as much, but none comes close to its £3.3bn-a-year broadcast deals, and around half is paid in parachutes.

Wage cuts for relegated Premier League players have become the norm but the Blades could be unique in implementing a second round this summer.

“The majority of players in our squad get a second reduction for being in the Championship for a second season,” explained Bettis. There is no third cut.

Oli Burke was sold to Werder Bremen on Wednesday and it seems unlikely a reasonable offer for Sander Berge would be refused, but Bettis is adamant the Blades were already in a position to buy players.

A bid is believed to be on the table for ex-Nottingham Forest centre-back Anel Ahmedhodzic but Bordeaux’s option to buy the Bosnian they loaned last season is still active. They were relegated two divisions this summer - one for football, one financial - and are appealing the latter.

Meanwhile, the Championship game against Reading has moved to 7.45pm on August 30. The League Cup tie at West Bromwich Albion is on Thursday, August 11 (8pm), and subsequent matches against Middlesbrough and Sunderland are set to pushed back a day.