Date: 29th July 2007 at 3:45pm
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This Stoke fan is becoming increasingly frustrated as the Potters seem no nearer signing any new players.

Potential players’ names have been bandied around for weeks, Tony Pulis has gone on record saying they hope to sign players ‘before the end of the week’, but that week comes and goes. Yes, I know that contract talks, agents and all the other behind the scenes activities can prolong the negotiations, but it just seems that players are only treating the Brit as the last port of call when all other, more lucrative, employment possibilities have dried up.

Maybe I’m being cynical, maybe it’s just all this rain that’s getting me down, but I believed that this season was going to be different from this time last year. Then the excuses were ‘new owner, new manager – not enough time to prepare’. This time they’ve had all season to prepare and yet we seem to be in exactly the same situation as last. Not even a decent finish in the league has been able to lift the player drought and avoid the possible reliance on more loans for the coming season.

The reason for all this lack of activity is, of course, money – or more precisely – the lack of it. In that regard, you may think that the natural thing is to blame the chairman, but Peter Coates has already sunk a small fortune (by normal supporters’ standards) into the club over the past year and he is by no means a Roman Abramovich. Fans will moan about the club’s lack of ambition, but if you haven’t got the money…
This is a problem that most of the middle ranking Championship clubs are suffering from as Premiership clubs start receiving even greater riches this season from Sky and Setanta, which is rapidly creating a two tier Championship as distinctly average clubs suddenly find themselves with loads of money but relegated to the Football League.

Tony Pulis has voiced his objection to the parachute payment system on several occasions and whilst it no doubt helps former top tier clubs readjust to the second tier of English football, it creates an artificially high wage structure for the rest. Do away with this payment and it would force Premiership clubs to negotiate contract clauses with players that forced salary reductions if the team were relegated. What better incentive for a player to keep his team up?

OK, rant over – and just maybe the Potters will have two bits of good news for us in the coming days. Firstly, that Hoefkens is staying after all and secondly, that the magic ‘two or three’ players sign in time for the Aston Villa friendly on Wednesday.

Or is that just Dreamland?

 

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