By Jason McKeown
Following rumours swirling around Twitter last night, Bradford City has today announced the shock signing of Andrew Davies on a 12-month contract. The 27-year-old, who spent the majority of last season on loan at the Bantams and was hugely impressive, was widely expected to join a club higher up the football pyramid – particularly in view of his reported £15,000 a week salary he was earning as a Stoke City player.
City were apparently contributing £3,000 a week towards those wages while he was on loan last season, making Davies – depending on if rumours of Tommy Doherty’s contract were conservative rather than an exaggeration – the highest earning player at the club during the past five years of life in League Two. We can only speculate on the terms of Davies’ new contract, but the fact it is only for a year would suggest he is going to be well paid – relative to his team mates – with the club not committing his expenditure beyond an attempt at promotion next season.
Peter Taylor, for example, was only awarded a one year contract in 2010 on the basis City could not afford his wages beyond that, unless he delivered a promotion. It would not be much of an assumption to make in stating that a similar strategy has been taken towards signing up Davies.
While there is no doubt this is great news and a huge boost to next season’s prospects, it does throw up some questions about the funding of the club next season. At the start of this week we read rallying calls from the two Chairmen regarding the so-far low take up of season tickets; with strong messages about how the playing budget for next season will be dependent on the final outcome of sales. Yet City have now gone and committed themselves to making what is surely a very expensive signing.
On City’s website today, an advert for season tickets has appeared with the words “Andrew has signed for next season, have you?” It was becoming clear that the club felt it needed a hook – such as a stellar signing – to boost sales, and Davies certainly fits that bill. But one just hopes that the two Chairmen have not gambled on Davies’ arrival leading to the raising of the money which they forecast is needed from supporters, via season tickets, by committing to an expensive signing prematurely.
Because if manager Phil Parkinson’s budget really is going to be dictated by season ticket sales – and let’s be frank about this, just days ago the two Chairmen were stating this was the case, with Mark Lawn quoted “In essence the playing budget is in the fans’ hands” – there has to be some fears that the manager has just used a substantial part of what he will end up with on just one player, which would present further problems down the line.
Good player as Davies is, on his own he will not make the difference between promotion or enduring another season in League Two, especially if his wages mean Parkinson has a minuscule budget left with which to build the rest of the squad. Remember the problems we had when Chris Brandon, apparently on £1,900 a week, took up too much of the overall playing budget for the 2009/10 season?
There are whispers of new investment coming into the club this summer, though we’ve heard that before. Perhaps the Chairmen are going to splash their own cash to make up for shortfalls in revenue. I hope that it’s one of those two, because if it’s down to us supporters to fund next season’s playing budget and take up for season tickets does not significantly improve, we may find that the maths don’t add up on Davies’ very welcome, permanent arrival.