Stoke City boss reveals how club have ‘had to recalibrate’ and rethink transfers

Michael O’Neill believes the ongoing challenges of operating within the tight restraints of Financial Fair Play (FFP) will serve to benefit the club in the long run.

The Potters are one of several Championship clubs opposed to the current stipulations in place, and have long requested a full review and revamp of the EFL’s existing profit and sustainability rules.

Uefa opted to tear-up their ‘break-even’ measure earlier this year in the aftermath of a pandemic which has sent shockwaves through the footballing world, causing ‘a revenue crisis’ for even the biggest clubs.

Stoke City have had to recalibrate the set-up and structure of the whole club to adhere to the EFL’s current model in place, with much of that work being undertaken behind-the-scenes during the summer months.

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Speaking to Stoke City Supporters Council Chair, Angela Smith, during an interview with Stoke City’s official website, O’Neill revealed details of the many changes that have been implemented at the bet365 Stadium.

“FFP isn’t going to disappear because it is linked to turnover, and we are now in a position where we no longer have parachute payments from the Premier League.” the 52-year-old said.

“As a consequence of that, our turnover is less and we have to adjust to that – there is always discussion around the validity of FFP and whether the rules will or won’t be altered.

“Clearly, they maybe don’t suit us at the moment because of the ownership model we have at the club, but equally we have to abide by them and run the club in an alignment with what the rules are stipulating.

“It just means that for us we have had to recalibrate the club in lots of ways – in terms of what we pay the players, how we structure deals and the way we recruit.

“We now have a more incentivised salary structure which is based on players playing and based on bonuses, and wages which are now far more realistic for the level we are at.

“It equally means that when a player becomes available that we like, and the numbers are just not right for us, then we won’t do the deal.

“We have operated in that way since I have come to the club. This is my fourth window now and we have operated within those constraints in all four windows.”

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The changes have meant that O’Neill hasn’t been able to splash big money on any of his targets since arriving at the bet365 Stadium, unlike his predecessors Gary Rowett and Nathan Jones, who spent around £70million between them on acquisitions.

The Northern Irishman has had to act far more shrewdly to revamp a demoralised squad that incredibly came far closer to playing in League One than it had of propelling the club back into the Premier League.

“We have had to work shrewdly, and to be honest, since I have been here we have always worked on the basis of what goes out of the building, then we can use a portion of that towards incomings,” he added.

“This window was no different in that regard, because we had a bit of money to spend through the departure of Nathan Collins, but even with that, the vast majority of those funds stayed within the club.

“Both Sam Surridge and Ben Wilmot came in for a third of what we received for Nathan, around £4million – so for us, that represents two really good, and sensible, investments.

“It is all about doing sensible business now, and whilst we may not like FFP, what it does do is it makes you act in a sensible way, and that, in the long-run, can only be a good thing.

“Our owners want to invest, they are keen to, and if the rules do change, or we find ourselves in a different situation, then given the way we have operated recently, we will be in a really strong position to be able to go out and do that.”

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