It’s been a slow start to the summer for Leicester City.
This time last year all six of the Foxes pre-season friendlies had been announced, and City fans knew three new players (Matty James, Ritchie De Laet and Jamie Vardy) would feature in them.
So far this close season the only real news of note has been an assurance that Nigel Pearson will be here in August and Sean St Ledger almost certainly won’t.
The Irishman is unlikely to be the only exit of the summer. And there are three words which tell you why – Financial Fair Play.
The Football League’s new system of spending controls has technically been in effect for two seasons. But from 2013/14 the rules have sanctions attached in the form of fines for promoted clubs who overspend, and transfer embargoes for those who flash too much cash and fail to reach the Premier League.
Leicester City, with losses of nearly £30m reported in 2011/12, need to find ways to reduce those losses to just £8m to comply with the limit for the coming season.
The Foxes wage bill rose from £16.6m in 2010/11 to £27.7m in 2011/12. Cutting it back down appears essential to Leicester’s chances of meeting the Financial Fair Play limit.
Some work has already been done. Sol Bamba, Matt Mills and Yuki Abe have all been sold. The likes of Gelson Fernandes and Michael Johnson quickly returned to their parent clubs.
But many others remain on deals signed before there were hints of Financial Fair Play on the horizon. And of the current first team squad only the contracts of Martyn Waghorn and Conrad Logan expire this summer.
If the wage bill remains too high, and it seems reasonable to assume that it does, players on big contracts must be moved on. That is easier said than done.
Here’s a breakdown of contracts at Leicester City. Players highlighted in bold signed their most recent deals before Nigel Pearson returned to the King Power Stadium.
Under contract until 2014; Neil Danns, Lloyd Dyer, Paul Konchesky, Wes Morgan, David Nugent, Kasper Schemeichel, Sean St Ledger, Richie Wellens, Zac Whitbread.
Under contract until 2015; Jermaine Beckford, Ritchie De Laet, Danny Drinkwater, Marco Futacs, Paul Gallagher, Matty James, Andy King, Anthony Knockaert, Ben Marshall, Liam Moore, Jeffery Schlupp, Jamie Vardy.
Under contract until 2016; Chris Wood.
So Nigel Pearson’s task this summer is to find clubs who want to take on players he feels are no longer required, and find better, cheaper replacements. And, if those surplus to requirements at the King Power Stadium want to stay in England, they will almost certainly need to agree terms that are less favourable than their current deals.
This might take some time. Unfortunately for the manager Leicester City’s new financial year – the first to come under the scrutiny of Financial Fair Play rules with teeth – starts on Saturday.