JUST call it the £5.5billion transfer window. That is the eye-watering amount that Premier League clubs will bank from next year when the next tranche of domestic and international TV deals kick in.
And it is a slice of that staggering windfall that any relegated team is putting in jeopardy if they fail to pull their bootstraps up in the New Year.
Don’t think that hasn’t come into the reckoning in the St James’ Park boardroom as owner Mike Ashley prepares to loosen the purse strings to bring in a few stars capable of shaking up this flatlining season.
The Newcastle owner may have sanctioned spending in the January transfer window, but nothing at United happens without some sort of financial logic behind it. And this time, it is the game-changing amount that the club might miss out on if they are dragged into a relegation battle that they are ill-equipped for.
To put it in some sort of context – from 2013-14 the Premier League’s bottom club is guaranteed at least £60million. The winners of the league are in line for £100million, sums that dwarf what is on offer to anyone trying to climb out of the Championship.
There are, of course, parachute payments to protect relegated clubs, but they are not unlimited. It is easier to act now and preserve your status in the Premier League than play the second-tier lottery and try to achieve promotion with the clock ticking.
Against this backdrop, it is no wonder that 18 of the Premier League’s 20 managers have expressed a desire to spend money in January. The other two are Andre Villas-Boas, who was brought in with the express intention of ending the churning of players that Harry Redknapp oversaw at Tottenham and Sir Alex Ferguson, whose Manchester United look very comfortable at the top of the Premier League.
Of the rest, recruitment is firmly on the agenda. The idea seems to be that you can change the course of a season with a good January and the evidence would back up that assertion.
Last year, Newcastle made one addition in the shape of Papiss Cissé and it provided the impetus that propelled them towards the Champions League places. But it was an opportunist swoop by the club, who had heard a whisper that the player was bound for Fulham and already travelling to England for talks.
They spied Freiburg’s predicament and launched a counter offer that landed their man for £4million less than the club had demanded in the summer. His worth immediately eclipsed the £9million they paid – and it went on a sharp upwards curve in the following three months.
As a method of doing business, it was pretty much Newcastle’s dream transfer, and they have been trying to replicate it ever since.