Bristol City chairman Jon Lansdown talks EFL financial rules, on-pitch performances and sports quarter developments

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Club chairman spoke to the media on Wednesday, addressing financial concerns, and the team and Nigel Pearson’s performance.

Bristol Sport unveiled new main sponsor Huboo on Wednesday morning, succeeding MansionBet who have previously adorned the kits of Bristol City since 2020.

The new deal is an increase - revenue wise - to the previous one and will help the Robins as they battle back financially following the impact of the covid pandemic.

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City chairman Jon Lansdown spoke to the media to explain what the new sponsorship deal means, and also to discuss where the club lies in regard to meeting the EFL’s rules on Profit and Sustainability.

CEO Richard Gould suggested previously that the Robins may be in danger of being docked points if they did not sell players, which came in the wake of a £38.4m pre-tax loss announced for the 2020/21 accounts.

“From our point of view I’d like to think that Bristol City is looked at as a very stable well run football club, locally owned, sensible actions,” Lansdown explained to the written media, including Bristol World on Wednesday.

“We’ve all got slightly different models of how we do it. You can see our track record of how we used the transfer market to have a slightly higher wage bill than a club of our size would normally have but that’s been a perfectly valid way to operate for a number of years and we’ve done it pretty well, along that sense.

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“Part of that has completely dropped off from no foreseeable fault of our own. If you want to classify that as a mistake, it’s certainly an honest one.

“We can’t assume that that is going to come back straightaway so we have to adapt and change how we do things and make sure we can progress that way.

“But it does leave us in a difficult position in the short term as something we’ve been doing anyway and wouldn’t be seen in anyway as reckless or underhand - we’re not trying to hide anything - has left us in the situation we’re in.

“We’re going to have to work our way through that and work with people to do that. It needs to be seen for what it is and not what it isn’t.”

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Championship clubs in financial trouble

Lansdown pointed out that plenty of second tier clubs face a difficult immediate future with the loss of income associated with the pandemic.

A collapse of the transfer market has not helped the Robins, who believe they would have brought in higher fees for players were it not for all clubs’ finances being affected.

“Everyone is different and people will run their budgets differently. Some will have lower wage bills and be less affected, some will be similarly affected. Some will have parachute payments and now don’t and some won’t want to be told what to do to help work through it,” added Lansdown.

Bristol City chairman Jon Lansdown spoke to the media at Ashton Gate on Wednesday.Bristol City chairman Jon Lansdown spoke to the media at Ashton Gate on Wednesday.
Bristol City chairman Jon Lansdown spoke to the media at Ashton Gate on Wednesday.

“Because it’s a fine balance and everyone is slightly different. There’s no doubt that it’s put pressure on everyone,” he added.

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As to the extent of the financial problems in the Championship?

“It’s really hard for me to tell [how many clubs would be affected], and Richard [Gould] will be closer to knowing the individual clubs. But I’d have thought there will be five, six or seven in our league in a similar position to where we are,” said Lansdown.

“There are others who are struggling but the add backs [announced on Thursday by the EFL] they’re talking on will probably cover it off.

“For us we’re in a slightly different position because if you take our transfer sales over a longer period of time and you see what we average a year, if we averaged that we’d be absolutely fine now.

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“It’s pretty easy to prove that what we could have normally done in the last three or four windows we just haven’t been able to do. We’re in this situation we’re in and we need to find our way out of it and be in a more positive position for it,” said the chairman.

Plans for the sports and convention centre and further sports quarter developments are continuing but have been delayed by covid. Bristol City expect to hear in April whether planning permission has been granted to begin.

The club are also looking at sponsorship for the Robins High Performance Centre too, and the new partnership with Huboo will provide a platform to help with that, says the club chief.

Also on the agenda is a new hub for the Robins Foundation, with the club considering housing their community arm in the Atyeo Stand.

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League improvement needed

As to the current season, Lansdown - who moved from vice-chairman to chairman in June 2019 - believes that the club should be doing better than where they are in the table.

He gave his assessment on the way forward and on the manager too, hinting that bringing the wage bill down is taking some adjustment.

“You have to find different ways of doing that [being higher up the table]. It’s not like you can change from A to B straightaway, you’ve got contracts and you’ve got to work your way to it,” he said.

“But there’s still no reason why you still can’t improve what you’re doing that. We should be competitively better than we are at the moment in the league.

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“We’ve shown good signs, we’ve had some good performances from younger players as well and we’ll look to finish as strongly as we can. But we’d certainly like to be in a better position than we are now without a doubt.”

And for Pearson, there was support as well as recognition that it has not been an easy start for the 58-year-old former Leicester City boss after he took over a year ago.

“It’s been a tough time over that period with everything going on in the whole football environment. Nigel has had a few of his own health issues as well through that so we’re still growing that relationship,” said Lansdown.

“But it’s the same as anything, when you want to win football games. He’ll be wanting that as much as we do,” he reasoned, adding that Bristol City’s summer recruitment plans will not be affected either way.

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Bristol Sport, which has five professional teams including the Robins, have signed an agreement with Bristol-based eCommerce fulfilment company Huboo for the 2022/23 season.

The club has called Wednesday’s sponsorship deal a ‘ground-breaking’ partnership with a local company.

Huboo help businesses grow by taking care of all their eCommerce order fulfilment needs from their UK & European Union fulfilment centres.

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