The ‘Bosman Blues’ continues.
Lee Clark’s first two signings as Birmingham City manager follow a similar path to those previously.
The financial mess that is Birmingham International Holdings Limited, Blues’ parent company, has meant that the club have had to cut their cloth accordingly.
Or rather, Chris Hughton and now Clark have had to manage under very strict monetary parameters.
Frees and loans have been the order of the day for the past year, with just two cash signings arriving through the St Andrew’s entrance door.
Pablo and Wade Elliott, last-gasp captures on the previous summer window deadline day, cost Blues just shy of £1 million combined.
Otherwise, the 16 incoming transfers since Blues were relegated from the Premier League have been Bosmans or loans.
The latest were Peter Lovenkrands and David Lucas, Clark’s first signings since replacing Hughton in the hot seat. Blues, including the most recent sales of Ben Foster and Jordon Mutch, have raked in £35million from player exits since dropping into the Championship.
Peter Pannu, Blues’ acting chairman, has stated that the club will make a profit for the last financial year, which is hardly surprising. Pannu has stressed the need for ‘prudence’ and cost cutting, due to the drop in revenue that relegation brings, plus the fact that there were liabilities of £45.4 million by the end of June 2011.
The measures Blues have implemented, and the financial projections put to the Football League, led to the lifting of the transfer embargo. But Blues still have to run a very tight ship to remain as a going concern.
Clark knew this when taking the job and has stated that he remains ‘cool’ with the scenario. That said, the fact that Blues gave Lovenkrands a two-year contract, with a 12-month option, suggests that they are not a complete basket case.
And it may be that Clark is able to make a cash signing this window.
So far, apart from the rejected Jack Butland bid, Blues have had no offers for their remaining assets.
Clark wants it to stay that way and has said he expects the likes of Butland, Curtis Davies and Chris Burke to stay.
Blues’ squad still lacks depth, but in terms of quality, Lovenkrands has lifted that aspect further.
“I think it’s a great coup for us because I imagine there would be a lot of clubs out there wanting someone of Peter Lovenkrands ability and experience,” said Clark.
“Peter was a big part of a successful Newcastle United team that got promoted, winning the Championship.
“He has scored goals at this level, and at Champions League level. He has played in the Premier League.
“He’s got pace, so he’s a threat in behind. With the other strikers at the club he can play in combinations with all of them. I am really, really pleased we have got him.”
Lovenkrands can play up front, just off a main striker or out wide. Clark sees him as the attacking spearhead.
Lovenkrands said: “Either one of those two [up front] I like, depending probably on who I play with.
“I don’t really care as long as I’m playing.
“I have got a good goal record, I am a striker, I have been since I was little, so hopefully I can put some more goals in.”
Lucas was brought in to provide competition and cover in the goalkeeper ranks.
Clark wants three goalkeepers in the squad this season and Lucas, who was player-coach at Rochdale last season, has plenty of experience.
Butland and Colin Doyle will be battling it out with Lucas, 34.
Clark said: “I’m delighted to welcome David to the club and he will now compete with Jack and Colin for the No.1 spot.
“It’s very important for us to always have three senior goalkeepers to call upon because, for example, we could find ourselves without Jack for the Capital One Cup tie against Barnet due to international duty.”
For the record, Blues’ signings since failing to avoid the Premier League drop are:
Frees – Steven Caldwell, Jonathan Spector, Chris Burke, Morgaro Gomis, Marlon King, Adam Rooney, Caleb Folan, Cian Hughton, Peter Lovenkrands, David Lucas.
Loans – Chris Wood, Boaz Myhill, Erik Huseklepp, Andros Townsend, Guirane N’Daw, Peter Ramage.
Cash – Pablo, Wade Elliott.