We’ve already started to see it happen in a couple signings across the league, but in 12 months, the whole calculus of the Premier League’s finances will change. A significant increase in television revenues will flow into the league, setting up a scenario where we’re likely to see a spending spree across the league, from smaller clubs suddenly splurging on £15 million foreigners who’ll make £100k/week to big clubs having the ability to poach from some of the continent’s top sides.
That increase works out to £706 million per year across the league, and if ratios stay roughly the same, it means an additional £30 or £35 million is coming into your average mid-table club’s coffers at the close of every season. That’s massive.
In theory, every club around Villa will be able to afford to spend that money right away, meaning the chase for interested players would start straightaway.
But what if I told you Villa had a chance to "cash in" before the rest of the league?
How? Villa suddenly have their own "increase" in available cash about equal to that received by the new television deal, meaning they can start to reap the benefits a year earlier.
In a "normal" year, teams will want to consider the long-term financial implications of a transfer. When Villa complete the sale of Benteke, they’ll have nearly £29 million sitting in their account once Genk is paid their sell-on fee of £3.675 million.
But typically, that doesn’t mean the club can simply go out and spend £29 million on two new players to replace Benteke; over the long-run, those incoming signings are likely to be more expensive, unless their wages are the same as or less than the outgoing player’s.
Yesterday, Villa were linked with Adem Ljajić and Mattia Destro from Roma, and, for the sake of the article, we’ll assume the club is going to sign them. That’s our hypothetical.
A quick Google search indicates Ljajić is on roughly £25k/week, and Destro is on £20k/week; a pair of relatively-low salaries that Villa would be able to afford.
But, of course, this is Villa, and that is Roma. You’re gonna need to pay up, so we’ll propose the club would triple each player’s wages, to £75k/week and £60k/week respectively, which would probably be in the right ballpark (or maybe a bit high) if either player were to come to B6.
Benteke’s £60k/week wage comes off the bill, and we can cancel that out with the new wage we’d be giving Destro. But Ljajić’s wage wouldn’t work to cancel; he’d be making £3.9 million per year that hasn’t been accounted for in the past, and in the long-run, that’d amount to £15.6 million.
That figure? It has to come directly from the £28.8 million Villa are set to receive from the sale of Benteke, meaning the most Villa could spend on the pair, with what's left after Ljajić's wages, is £13.2 million; Transfermarkt rates them with values of €13.5 and €13 million, so this is probably too low of a bid to work.
But the nice thing about the Premier League’s new finances? Villa can use the expected money in the future to "pay down" the impact of Ljajić’s higher wages now; only this year’s wages are due this year.
Instead of factoring in the £15.6 million over his four years, Villa can stay in the "black" on the deal by simply committing £3.9 million of that increased revenue each year to Ljajić’s contract, freeing up another £11.7 million to use now in the transfer window.
And that would let the club sign the Roma duo; the new "max" bid would be £24.9 million for the pair, which would likely be enough to seal the deal and get them in Claret and Blue.
What about the long-term implications? Well, the club would enter 2016-17 having already "spent" £3.9 million of the, say, £32 million increase it was expecting to get; in the long run, that’s not going to have a major impact one way or the other on Villa’s ability to complete deals.
Obviously, as wage bills increase, the buying power of those numbers go down; if a club adds £5 million to its wage bill next summer, that’s £5 million more in expenses, meaning the "value" of the TV rights increase starts to diminish. By the end of the deal, it’s not unlikely that wage bills will have "caught up" by then, with teams receiving very little extra cash to spend in the market.
But Benteke’s sale allows Villa to reach players this summer that its rivals — save, perhaps if Swansea City have Wilfred Bony money left over — don’t. And that’s a good place to be.
It means in theory, Villa should be able to get better this year than most of the teams around them, even accounting for the impending loss of Benteke, as they can spend more in wages on his replacements than they otherwise would be able to.
If Sherwood plays his cards right — and his transfer list so far indicates he is — there should be considerable reason for optimism next season, and a chance to take a huge stride forward.