Portsmouth CEO pinpoints Sunderland, Ipswich and Wigan spending 'huge money' in bid for League One promotion

Sunderland, Ipswich and Wigan are all spending 'huge money' in a bid for League One promotion in the 2021-22 season.
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That is the verdict of new chief executive Andrew Cullen speaking at the Tony Goodall Fans' Conference, as he revealed Pompey's plan might be to follow Brentford's ‘clever’ model should they reach the Championship.

Cullen arrived at Fratton Park from MK Dons last month, succeeding long-time servant Mark Catlin.

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He moved to the south coast with the club haemorrhaging circa £700,000 losses per month due to a lack of match-day revenue amid the coronavirus crisis.

As a result, Pompey have cut their cloth accordingly.

Danny Cowley's playing budget has been reduced compared to what predecessor Kenny Jackett was handed before the introduction of the salary cap at the start of last season that's now been scrapped.

Cullen believes the impact of the Covid-19 crisis on football means new owners are purchasing third-tier clubs rather than Championship outfits who’re one step away from the Premier League.

And he feels the trio of outfits all taken over during the 2020-21 campaign – Sunderland, Ipswich and Wigan – are flexing their financial muscle during this summer's transfer window.

Pompey chief executive Andrew Cullen.Pompey chief executive Andrew Cullen.
Pompey chief executive Andrew Cullen.
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According to the minutes of the Tony Goodall Fans’ Conference on July 1, Cullen said: ‘The Championship is in danger of imploding, as clubs struggle in the aftermath of the pandemic!

‘Look at the interest in football clubs at the moment – new owners are mainly buying clubs in League One.

‘You can do something with a Sunderland, a Wigan or an Ipswich, whereas Championship owners are getting burnt fingers, throwing so much money at it to get to the Premier League.

‘Some owners are finding they can no longer do that as their own businesses suffered during the pandemic. In League One, there are three clubs spending huge money - Wigan Ipswich, Sunderland.

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‘Only three clubs will go up, and experience suggests that not all three of those will. So at least one could be in a tricky situation in the year after next.’

Pompey's aim is still to return to the Championship for the first time since 2012.

Since Michael Eisner's 2017 takeover, the Blues have been run on a sustainable basis when it comes to funds invested on the pitch.

Meanwhile, Pompey recently announced the purchase of their Roko training facility, while £10m investments to develop Fratton Park have begun.

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Should the Blues go up to the second tier, their sustainable mantra won't change.

And Cullen believes following in the footsteps of Brentford – who're now preparing for their maiden Premier League season – could be the route to go down.

He added: ‘We’ve got a long-term commitment from our owners here, shown by the £11m commitment to the stadium and the training ground purchase.

‘On the business plans, I inherited the one we’ve got at the moment so I need to assess that, but being sustainable in the Championship can be done.

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‘We’re looking at additional new commercial revenues, we’re looking at the player trading model, the Brentford model.

‘They’ve put together an example of how you can go up without throwing money at it but instead having a clever recruitment plan.’