Forget about David Beckham’s transfer to PSG or even about Peter Odemwingie’s crusade up and down the M6 to no avale. The most talked about transfer on Jim White’s Day involved a 28-year-old defender, whose career highlights include captaining Blackburn Rovers and spending six months alongside Samuel Eto’o and Roberto Carlos.
The signing of Christopher Samba represents a huge gamble for the R’s, one that could potentially define the future of the Loftus Road club, who have now tied their hopes of escaping relegation to a mast worth £12.5m and £100k a week, an investment that will have costed in the excess of the £30m mark by the time Samba will have to renegotiate his deal.
After securing Premiership survival on the final day of last season, Tony Fernandes had opened his chequebook in summer with the plan being to provide Mark Hughes with a squad good enough to leave behind the rough seas of the relegation zone and sail towards mid-table tranquility.
£22m in transfer fees and 11 new players didn’t save Mark Hughes’ job as he was replaced by Harry Redknapp who, having failed to turn the club’s fortunes around as yet, decided to rely on a long-serving ally of his…wheeling and dealing during a transfer window.
After signing Loic Remy for £9.2m on a £80,000-per-week contract, Tal Ben Haim and South Korean international Suk-Young Yoon, Redknapp sharpened his weapons ahead of deadline day when, much to Sky Sports’ delight, viewers were catapulted back in time as good old ‘Arry conducted interviews once again through his car window.
Redknapp was able to secure the signing of not only Chris Samba, but Jermaine Jenas and Andros Townsend. Six players arriving in January isn’t bad going even for ‘Arry. When you consider it could have been eight if he hadn’t missed out on fellow former Spurs boys David Bentley and Peter Crouch, the alarm bells start to ring.
This kind of spending in January for a club the size of QPR is reckless. Particularly when one considers the figures that characterise Samba’s signing.
“Wheeler Dealer” Harry Redknapp has built a reputation for liking a bit of a gamble when it comes to the transfer window, but even for his standards, Samba’s deal represents a particular risky bit of business for QPR.
The former Blackburn man will surely provide the R’s back four with some much-needed stability and maybe even chip in with a couple of goals from set pieces, but his salary package could haunt QPR’s management for years to come, particularly if the club end up going down, which they easily could.
January’s hypothesis are May’s certainties and while the Premier League has witnessed many great escapes, the odds are stacked against QPR, who have amassed a meagre 16 points in the first 24 games of the season and lie four points behind 17th-placed Reading.
A failure to avoid the drop, would see QPR parting ways with the flow of cash guaranteed by their Premier League status, while they’d be burdened by an astronomical wage bill for Championship standards. Relegation related clauses could partly soften the blow of Samba’s and Remy’s contracts, but QPR will need to be prepared to lose money on both players if the worse is to happen.
Let’s take Samba for example; QPR will have a centre-back with virtually no resale value, for he’ll be 32 by the time his £100k-a-week contract runs out, meaning they could end up losing a player for free, after investing more than £30m over four years. His salary will undoubtedly drop with relegation, particularly should the player look for a move, but potential buyers are likely to be scarce, and definitely unlikely to be willing to pay the same amount QPR have paid.
Samba is not the only player contributing to a large wage bill; if reported salaries are correct, Julio Cesar, Jose Bosingwa and Esteban Granero are enjoying QPR’s approach in softening the blow of moving from top teams by paying decent wages.
QPR need to be careful as Harry’s zeal to trigger inflated-fee transfers can have devastating effects as Southampton, and more importantly Portsmouth, can testify.
Before the Fratton Park club plummeted into administration and exile in League One, their fans were treated to see the likes of John Utaka receiving a reported weekly wage of £80,000 on top of a £7m fee, an investment worth £23m over the duration of his four-year deal.
David Nugent, signed for £6m on the same day, proved to be yet another costly mistake for ‘Arry, one whose full extent would only be known after Pompey’s successful run in the 2009 FA Cup which saw each player pocket a bonus of around £250,000.
Suggesting that QPR could incur in such appalling financial mis-management is perhaps premature at this stage of the season, but as Gary Neville told Sky Sports News: “You can’t really understand it [QPR's transfer policy]. It’s like a carousel, it needs to settle down.”
QPR fans can only hope that once the carousel stops, they’ll be sitting above the bottom three, otherwise next summer could mean it is back to square one for the West London club. Fernandes is already making noises about a potential departure if he does fail, the question is, who would want to take on the potential financial situation of this club if the sh*t does hit the fan?
QPR fans are you worried about the spending at the club?