Although many fans online are looking at who else they might desire in a Blues shirt, I thought it would be wise to look at the constraining factors Blues have to do business in.
As always, money is a big factor in how many players can come into the club; however regulations brought in this season by the EFL will also affect how much more business Blues can do.
The size of Blues squad is in part affected by EFL regulations, which can be viewed online at this link.
Last month, the EFL ratified changes that would cap the number of players allowed to be registered to each club.
Regulation 43.9.1 says that:
43.9.1 Clubs shall be permitted to name up to a maximum number of Players in their Squad List based on the following provisions:
(a) in respect of Championship Clubs, 25 Players of which a minimum of 8 must be a Home Grown Player;
There are exemptions listed under regulation 43.9.2, namely:
43.9.2 The following Players do not need to be included in the Squad List to be eligible to play in League Matches:
(a) in respect of Championship Clubs, any Under 21 Player (save for any Under 21 Player who is registered with the Club on a Temporary Loan Transfer)
I’m a bit of a stats nerd, so I’ve tried to maintain a squad spreadsheet listing player contracts and ages. By my count, Blues currently have 24 players over the age of 21, along with one other (Connal Trueman) who does not count by virtue of being out on loan.
This means that Blues can now only sign only one over-21 player (or one loan player of any age) before having to let someone else go.
While as far as I can see Blues have no problems with their quota of “Home Grown” players in the squad, there is another rule which is applicable for match-day squads that makes things interesting.
33.11 Club Developed Players. Subject to Regulation 33.12 each Club shall be required to nominate at least one Club Developed Player on their Squad List on each occasion that it is due for submission, or on their Team Sheet of Players for all League Competition Matches (including Play Off Matches). Where any Club does not name a Club Developed Player on the Team Sheet, that Club will only be permitted to name up to six substitutes on that League Team Sheet (rather than the seven as permitted by Regulation 33.4).
According to this BBC article from 2017, a “Club Developed Player” is defined as a player “who has been registered to the club for at least a year before the end of his under-19 season.”
While Blues have plenty of players with squad numbers who are considered “Club Developed Players”, they only have four who are over the age of 21 and qualify as such – namely Josh Dacres-Cogley, Steve Seddon, Charlie Lakin and Connal Trueman.
Last season this wasn’t an issue for Blues as the team and the bench was often full of Academy graduates. This season however, with a much better squad it is going to be a bit more difficult – but it’s going to be vital for Blues to hang on to at least some of their homegrown talent.
The excellent Blues Breakdown shared the below tweet to show how Blues are currently stacked up for players in the squad, based on Aitor Karanka’s preferred formation.
Updated the old squad depth graphic following a number of summer arrivals at #BCFC
Very interesting when you compare with the one produced at the end of the season ? pic.twitter.com/9DyyoH6pGF
— Blues Breakdown (@blues_breakdown) September 17, 2020
For me, it seems obvious that Blues have a surfeit of central midfielders in the squad, but cover up front and wide is maybe a little bit thin on the ground.
Blues are also maybe a little bit lacking in the centre of defence but I think that the youth options there such as Geraldo Bajrami mean that it’s possibly less of a priority to get fixed.
This coupled with the analysis above on permitted squad sizes that shows Blues need to create squad space to bring more players in says to me that Blues need to move on one or two of their central midfielders.
Based on what I’ve seen I would not be surprised to see any or all of David Davis, Maikel Kieftenbeld and Agus Medina moved out either on loan or permanent deals.
I think Blues will also look to loan out some of their younger talent if possible. The chief problem with loaning out young players to league clubs is that loans tend to be window to window without recall, which means if a player isn’t getting game time there is not much that can be done.
On the other hand, “Youth Loans” to National League and lower sides have a recall clause after 28 days and allow the loaned player to play in non-competitive matches for the parent club. This is handy if Blues have got a player who they want to get some first team experience but also want to keep around the club.
The sales of Jude Bellingham to Borussia Dortmund and Alvaro Gimenez to Cadiz, coupled with Blues being a bit more cautious in the transfer market last summer should mean that finances are much less of a problem than they have been in the past.
Even without a relaxation of the rules due to the coronavirus outbreak, the sales in successive seasons of St Andrew’s, Che Adams and Jude Bellingham have made it much easier for Blues to meet their P&S obligations.
Therefore the only real financial constraint Blues have is the amount of money the holding company is prepared to put into the team this season – or for practical purposes, how much of the Jude Bellingham transfer will be reinvested.
As it stands, Blues have made three transfers that have incurred transfer fees; namely Jonathan Leko, Neil Etheridge and Scott Hogan. While all three fess have been undisclosed I’d be surprised if Blues have spent more than £3.5million combined on the three of those players in upfront costs.
Wages are much harder to judge because one needs to work out the wages that have come off the wage bill at the end of last season in comparison to what has been added.
However, the delay in the closure of the transfer window means that the window will still be open at the time Birmingham Sports Holdings are due to release their annual accounts for last season.
Although the accounts are for the whole group, the fact that BCFC makes up such a huge percentage of the total turnover for BSH means that it’s somewhat possible to make a judgement on where Blues are at financially from them.
This in turn should give us a guide to where Blues are in relation spending at the end of the window.
The transfer window for international registrations closes at 11pm on Monday 5 October, with an agreement in place with the Premier League for an extended two-week domestic only window which will close at 5pm on Friday 16 October.