Sheffield United wait to see if they will have to recruit for Europe

Chris Wilder: Sheffield United manager needs to know how much transfer cash will be available.
Chris Wilder: Sheffield United manager needs to know how much transfer cash will be available.
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sheffield United have factored in possible European qualification when discussing their summer transfer budget in Dubai this week.

Manager Chris Wilder, chief executive Stephen Bettis and owner Prince Abdullah have been mapping out how they will approach the next transfer window.

They had a similar meeting earlier in the season to set a transfer budget for January, and plan what might be available in the summer, but broke it to sign Wilder’s No 1 midfield target, Sander Berge, for a club record £22m.

That may eat into what the Blades have to spend in the next window, but a strong finish to the season could compensate.

The Blades are fifth in the Premier League, which would qualify them for next season’s Europa League were they to defy expectations and finish the campaign there.

A first season of European football would add huge demands to the squad, and should really bring greater recruitment.

“Chris and I talk about it regularly, not only Europe but finishing higher up the league because for every position you move up there’s an extra sum of money and when you start talking about not finishing 17th but seventh, that ends up being a significant sum,” commented Bettis. “If you utilise that to strengthen the squad you get a lot back for it. The board and Prince Abdullah want to continue to push this club forward as much as they can but it’s being done in the right way, in a sustainable way, it’s not boom and bust.

“There’s a three to five-year plan. We talked about it last time we were in Dubai, and we’re updating it again this week.

“We’re spending these large sums of money on proven talent that’s young, with many years left of their career and we think they’re assets for the football club.”

The fee for 21-year-old Berge is paid in instalments over a number of years.

Premier League clubs receive an equal share of around £80m and earn around £2m for each place they finish up the table, with the champions taking £24m. Once other payments, including television appearance fees are factored in, the Blades will bank a sum well into nine figures for their efforts this season.”

Qualifying for the Europa League group stages automatically brings six extra fixtures, plus four further two-legged knockout rounds before the final, which four Premier League clubs have contested in the last four years.

“The sums of money in terms of positional bonuses make such a difference that they can have a huge impact on what we do in the summer transfer market,” said Bettis.

“Prior to January, we always had a plan for January and the summer in terms of budgets, but they’re kept fluid because you never know what’s going to happen.

“Things have changed because of what happened in this window and we now know it’s got to be flexed and changes will be made because we want a clear position for Chris to be able to have a look at potential targets to fill those positions he wants to strengthen in the summer.

“Without knowing those numbers, he doesn’t know what player to be looking for.”