SHEFFIELD UNITED manager Chris Wilder believes clubs who break football’s financial laws should be punished with a points deduction.
The Blades are battling for promotion from the Championship this season alongside several clubs who have invested heavily.
This week, Leeds United owner Andrea Radrizzani criticised the way leaders Wolverhampton Wanderers – who have close links with agent Jorge Mendes – have been able to recruit star names like Portugal international Ruben Neves.
Wolves lost £23.2m last season and, under current Football League rules, teams are allowed a maximum loss of £39m over a three-year period under Financial Fair Play (FFP).
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United’s cross-city neighbours Wednesday also posted losses of over £20m last season and there are several other Championship clubs who have incurred heavy losses in their pursuit of Premier League football.
But Wilder – who has taken the Blades to the edge of the play-off spots on a relatively shoe-string budget – wants clubs who break FFP rules to be punished with a points deduction rather than a financial penalty.
“We, as managers, always want the opportunity to invest,” said Wilder. “But you do sometimes look at FFP and think, ‘how have they lost that’?
“If FFP is broken there should be points deductions.
“It’s too easy just to write a cheque because lots of people know that there’s another one coming along in the post. It’s a gamble that clubs take. A points reduction is the biggest thing that can hurt any club, an ability to punish teams.
It’s too easy just to write a cheque because lots of people know that there’s another one coming along in the post. It’s a gamble that clubs take. A points reduction is the biggest thing that can hurt any clubSheffield United boss, Chris Wilder
“I’m not trying to be controversial. I’m just saying that if rules are broken then back them up. Look at what lengths teams are going to, to get into the Premier League. It’s ridiculous.
“This is the size of the competition, how powerful it is, and what lengths teams will go to, to realise their dream. It’s quite staggering at times, the numbers involved.
“Will a club go pop? Yes, maybe, when you are talking that amount of money, £50m and £100m.
“Have clubs popped in the past? Yes, like Portsmouth, and other clubs who have found themselves in League One and Two and restarting.
“Even clubs going extinct. That has always happened in football, with mis-management, greed, and ambition – sometimes a false one of trying to reach the Premier League and all the riches that brings.
“There will always be clubs that have more than other clubs.”
United sit ninth in the Championship and tomorrow travel to Ipswich Town looking to close the three-point gap on sixth-placed Middlesbrough.
“The likes of Ipswich, Brentford, Preston, Millwall have done well, getting the maximum out of what they have got,” said Wilder.
“I think we are in that category as well. Manage sensibly and properly. Wealthy benefactors can sustain some clubs, but if you talk about losses in our division it’s happened in the past.
“Sometimes you might think bridging the gap is impossible. It can be difficult, yes. But you try and bridge it through team spirit, organisation and recruitment.
“I’m always thinking and I’m always trying to find a way. I’m always trying to find ways of doing it. I try and we will always try.
“People across the country, across Europe and the world, are trying to do that: to try and bridge that gap and give themselves the chance.
“We’re only three points off sixth and so we’re still in the mix. We’ve set the expectations from the fans in a powerful league. Teams are going to great lengths to get in the Premier League.
“Some are incurring huge losses and yet we are right there, still in the mix.”
United will give a fitness test to top scorer Leon Clarke today ahead of their trip down to Suffolk.
The striker has not played since last month’s win over Reading due to a hamstring injury.
But defender Kieron Freeman is back in contention after a knee injury to challenge George Baldock for the wing-back spot.
Wilder said: “Kieron is back involved with the first team now so that’s good to see.
“George’s performances have been good throughout the season, but Kieron is also really pushing. He’s a good player too and he can play in different positions. It’s good to have him where he is now. It gives us options and decisions to make.
“You’ve got to recognise, when I’ve got a squad of 21 or 22, I’ve got to pick the right bench as well. If someone goes down injured during the game I’ve got to pick the right bench to try and win the game.
“We’ve also got to have the right substitutes to try and affect the game.”
Blades defender Enda Stevens has been called up by the Republic of Ireland at senior level for the first time for a friendly in Turkey later this month.