‘LEICESTER CITY, The most expensive squad IN THE 2022/23 PREMIER LEAGUE SEASON to be relegated’
On the surface, Leicester may appear to be in a decent position to make an immediate return to the Premier League.
Playmaker Maddison – the club’s crown jewel – and £60m-rated winger Harvey Barnes are expected to leave, but should fetch a fair price.
The ‘parachute payments’ that follow relegation will boost the coffers too, so they are set to bounce straight back up, right? Wrong.
If Leicester’s search for Rodgers’ replacement was farcical, the lack of a plan for their players makes for even worse reading.
Seven are out of contract in June, including internationals Youri Tielemans and Caglar Soyuncu, who would have commanded significant transfer fees if sold last summer.
Deals for a further eight players expire next year and, with cuts of up to 50% written into contracts should the club be relegated, there is likely be a huge overhaul of the staff.
Leicester’s wage bill stands at £180m – the highest outside the top six – with Maddison, Jamie Vardy and Ricardo Pereira among a number of players to earn in excess of £100,000 a week.
The club showed income of £214m in their accounts up to May 2022, but this will reduce to about £70m in the Championship.
The main issue they face is a loan agreed with Australian bank Macquarie for advanced payments on player amortisation and broadcasting revenue.
That is set against TV money so it is quite feasible the club will not see any of the ‘parachute payments’ as they will be allocated towards paying the quarterly interest on the loan, which stood at £19m last year.
Leicester’s total borrowings stand at £344m, but much of that is related to the owners, who wrote off £194m earlier this season,
“Leicester will be the most expensive squad, with the highest wage bill, to be relegated in Premier League history,” sport finance expert Kieran Maguire told Radio Leicester’s When You’re Smiling podcast.
“There will be a lot of belt-tightening. Nobody wants the players to go but there will be a retrenchment.
“Some players will be on very lucrative contracts without relegation clauses which means they will become a significant burden.
“They will have to get the players of value out first. You will still get decent figures, but not as much as you hoped for when in the Premier League.
“They club will be in a much weaker position when suitors do come.”
The last time Leicester dropped out of the Premier League was at the end of the 2003-04 campaign and it took 10 seasons to return to the top flight, including one campaign spent in League One.
Players, supporters and the club will be hoping another long, painful road back to the top does not lie ahead.