A Fishy Deal

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So, it’s February again, no doubt we all woke up this morning to choruses of “pinch, punch”, “white rabbits” and “bloody hell, Liverpool paid how much for Andy Carroll and we grabbed some bloody nobody from Scotland, bloody Martinez he knows nowt he does, my granny could do a better job and she speaks Spanish!”.  Whilst the rest of the Premier League went mad and despite some insistent rumblings, Latics had a quiet transfer window and to be honest I think I preferred it that way.

I appreciate that this sort of sentiment will send half of you into convulsions, no doubt arguing that “you’ve got to speculate to accumulate” or “what’s a £5m gamble to get £50m TV money next season?”.  Nothing is that simple, of course and the best example of that are the two deals that had Sky Sports News in five minutely cycles of rapture all day yesterday.

£50m is a lot of money, but is it fair for one of the world’s top strikers, who could shoot Chelsea to a champion’s league win this year and the League title the next?  Well spread the transfer fee over the life of Fernando Torres’, guestimated, £200k per week contract and he’ll cost the Blues around £20m a year.  If we’re generous then winning the League and Champions League in the same might net a club close to £200m. 

Throw the Torres deal back into the mix and it’s 10% of your money gone on one player.  Take Andy Carroll, on £80k per week and costing £35m.  That works out at more than £10m per year coming out of the Scousers coffers.  Even if he brings the glory days back to Anfield, it’s too much to be paying, proportionately for one of your 25 man squad.

Of course both Chelsea have some support from other revenue streams.  The £200m they could get from endeavours on the pitch would be bolstered by match day revenues, shirt sales and sponsorship. Even so, it’s not likely to push the risk they are taking to acceptable levels.

What about Latics, who basically survive on TV money alone.  How does that £5m gamble stack up?  For the sake of argument let’s call it £6.5m and £40k per week wages (My guess of what Boselli was on) over a three year contract.  That’s £4.2m per year, our last reported revenue was £49m in 2008/09.  So that gamble would be worth a gnat’s chuff away from 10% of our revenue for the next three years.  It might not quite be putting all our eggs in one basket, but it wouldn’t leave much yolk to go round if that particular one cracked.

Which is basically what happened in Summer.  Latics gambled a big proportion of their budget on a goal scorer that didn’t come good.  So come this window they’ve been left with the option of sticking, twisting or putting down their cards and going to a different table.  I don’t think anyone would have been happy with staying with the current squad and I hope I’ve established just how bust trying the same gamble again might have left us so we’re stuck with a completely different bet altogether.

At this point it’s probably worth welcoming Conor Sammon to the club and have a look at what, apart from an improbably badly spelt and probably ADHD inducing name, he brings to the club.

The word from my Scottish contact (well, someone I used to work with who’s from Glasgow and by inference must know everything about Scottish football) says that Sammon “Was rubbish until Kilmarnock got a new boss last summer and he’s come on a ton since then.  Quite strong and good at getting a shot in – going on for 20 goals this season.”

Wikipedia tells me that Conor is 6’1” from Ireland and a bad dresser.  It tells me that he has an almost one in three goal scoring record which has been boosted massively by the 17 goals he’s got in 25 league and cup games this season.  

A quick trip round the internet leads to the conclusion that we’ve picked up a lad who has plenty of potential, has benefited at Killie by the arrival of a manager who looks to play a passing game and has returned the favour by delivering on some of that potential.  No one seems particularly sad to see him go, but that appears to be more about the pragmatic nature of Scottish fans as afar as moves to England are concerned than it does no one rating him.

It’s clear that this signing is a double edged sword.  There’s a gamble on Sammon carrying his goal scoring form upwards to the Premier League, but (as Derby and Scunthorpe’s interest suggests) a more evenly weighted bet that we’ve got someone who might be able to do a job in the Championship. 

It calls to mind 2007 and the £500k signing of (6’1”, 24 year old) Caleb Folan from League Two Chesterfield.  Then as now it was a late January move that came out of nowhere.  Folan hadn’t set the world alight, but had perked up in form that year and Jewell had obviously seen something in him, or panicked for the need of goals.  He came, he saw and he buggered off again in the summer, leaving us with some difficult memories and two goals.

We were no better off then than we are now.  We’d won more, but lost a lot more too, including the last seven on the bounce.  In retrospect, Folan wasn’t that bad.  He was a rough diamond that could have been honed, had we had an inkling to, whether it was short term thinking on our part or a need for first team football that saw him leave, I don’t know.  But more than that, his two goals were bloody important ones gaining us a point at Watford and three at Man City that made a big difference to Latics stuttering, relegation avoiding run in.

So whilst following in the footsteps of Folan might not seem like the most daunting of tasks and Sammon has probably achieved more, and at a higher level already, if he can achieve the same as Caleb then his £600k fee would have been a gamble well worth taking.

Welcome Conor, do us a favour and keep off the pies until June, eh?

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