Chris Wilder has ‘decisions to make’ as Sheffield United assess pandemic impact


Transfer budget hit and fringe players may leave the club to offset financial shortfall.

Sheffield United boss Chris Wilder believes the financial implications of the Coronavirus pandemic could affect the club to the tune of between GBP 20million and GBP 30million.

The Premier League was curtailed in March due to the outbreak and since its resumption this month all matches have been behind closed doors with fans not permitted to attend.

With no timescale on when supporters might be allowed back in stadiums, clubs continue to feel the pinch from a commercial point of view.

The impact has changed the landscape for Wilder as regards his budget for next season and he may have to let some fringe players leave the club as a result.

“First of all, I’m not being disrespectful because football was rightly stopped, I’m just speaking from a financial perspective, but it has definitely changed things,” said Wilder.

“I’m not embarrassed to say that. We’ll lose a chunk of change, I don’t know, somewhere between 20 and 30 million I should imagine from the football club’s point of view. Perhaps that is a question for (chief executive officer) Steve (Bettis).

“Does that mean it will affect budgets and investment into the team? Yes, that’s going to be the case and also what’s happening at the football club right now with the transfer of the club from one owner to another.

“I accept that and it’s up to me to find another way round that. I will give my best in trying to do what I need to do in order to make the group better for next year, which we have to.

Chesterfield v Sheffield United – Pre-Season Friendly – Proact Stadium
Chris Wilder says Phil Jagielka has added experience to the Blades squad but his one-year contract is due to expire when the season ends next month.

“There’s no doubt about it, you can’t stand still in this division because it will hurt you – as we’ve seen in glimpses so far since the return.

“My job next season is to make sure we are stronger than when we first started in the Premier League and there will be some decisions to make.”

Phil Jagielka’s one-year contract will expire when the season ends next month, while it might be that the Blades are unable to take up the option of turning Richairo Zivkovic’s loan from Chinese side Changchun Yatai into a permanent deal.

“There’s decisions to make,” said Wilder. “Jags has brought a great amount of experience into the group but there’s budgets to finalise. This is a moving situation, things can change.

Newcastle United v Sheffield United – Premier League – St James' Park
The financial impact of the pandemic may prevent Sheffield United taking up the option of turning Richairo Zivkovic’s loan into a permanent deal.

“Nobody knows if there’s going to be supporters in the ground so, from a commercial aspect for next year, sponsorship deals are things we as a football club rely really heavily on and are they going to be affected in the future nobody knows.

“Jags has put himself in a situation to earn a new contract but it’s always a moving situation and he understands that, as the other boys do. Some boys aren’t going to be with us and that’s the natural progression of the football club.

“(Zivkovic) was a loan with a view and still is so there’s conversations to have there. We have a basic idea of what we want to do and improve based on this season. He’s here for the next month and we’ll see where it goes from there.”