Bristol City plan major change to senior structure but face some expensive hurdles

The City are planning to become more sustainable but are still facing the reality of their previous failings

<p>Nigel Pearson wants the first-team squad to have a fairer wage structure. (Photo by Jan Kruger/Getty Images)</p>

Nigel Pearson wants the first-team squad to have a fairer wage structure. (Photo by Jan Kruger/Getty Images)

Bristol City are hopeful of implementing an ‘even’ wage structure that will reflect on their first-team squad but face some difficulties.

The Robins are recovering from losses of £38m from the 2020/21 season and are trying to navigate their way through the EFL’s Financial Fair Play rules, to avoid a potential points deduction.

One option would be to move on the players that currently aren’t in the plans of manager Nigel Pearson, though that is easier said than done with some contracted beyond this summer.

Kasey Palmer, who joined for a reported fee of £3.5m from Chelsea in 2019, hasn’t featured much this season and has not played in the Championship since October.

Another is Taylor Moore, who has already had discussions with Pearson after a loan spell with Scottish Premiership side Hearts this season.

There is no animosity towards those on high wages who aren’t part of his plans however and instead Pearson alluded to the fact that it was the club just having to deal with their previous dealings.

“I’m telling them where they sit, It’s not my job to offload them,” said Pearson whether it was a task for him to move on players.

“Players can either stay and fight for their places.

“A lot of the players who haven’t featured much this year, it’s not their fault with the money they are on, good luck to them.

“We put them on that money and they are earning that money. Never blame players for earning good money, why not?”

Antoine Semenyo and other key players are out of contract in the summer of 2023. (Photo by Jan Kruger/Getty Images)

But whilst there are no grudges held against players who aren’t featuring in his plans, it does halt the plans that the club is trying to implement to create a fairer wage structure.

A total of 10 first-team players including club captain Daniel Bentley, Tomas Kalas, Jay Dasilva, and the in-demand pair of Antoine Semenyo and Han-Noah Massengo are out of contract in the summer of 2023.

Offers have been put on the table for the French midfielder Massengo, but as of yet, no progress has been made available to the public about where he and the club are on that.

And there will be an obvious desire to retain some of those players, but that will have to work within the parameters of a new wage structure the club hopes to introduce which could be a sticking point when entering negotiations for current and potentially new players.

Pearson said: “What I would say is I’m looking at it from a picture of how we can be a squad with a more even wage structure and that’s what we want as a football club.

“We want a more even wage structure but there will be outlines in that for two to three years yet. Those players if they are here, they will be treated like everyone else and they will be expected to fight for those places.

“From the other side where we need to find a greater level of equality as a club. We need to introduce and we are doing it. I’m not preaching it but it is something as a club we have decided needs to be done.

“We know we need to make changes but we know it could take from one to three years to do that just because of how long people’s contracts last and it might be difficult to move people and if it’s difficult we will hang on to them.

“It slows down the process and the market will be pretty unknown quantity again. The business we do this summer is what we will try to do moving forward.”

Some players have already been told of where their future lies with the club and it will be up to them to react to the news, which could be positive or negative.

Timm Klose, Robbie Cundy, Andy King and Callum O’Dowda are out of contract at the end of the season with their futures still yet to be revealed.

Whilst there are players like Zak Vyner and the out on loan Tyreeq Bakinson, who are here beyond the summer, but will now be tasked with either finding a new club or working their way back in to the team.

And whilst there are two games remaining in the season, he says the performances of those in the last two games will not shape his opinion in his long-term thinking.

"I’ve made my mind up on everybody, I’m not going to lie on that part.

“I’ve had conversations with some players already so they know where they stand, whether they’re going to be here or not or if they’re outside the plans at least they will be aware of that before the season finishes so that they can act accordingly, it’s just how it needs to be.

"I expect the blend of the squad to be different, whether the team will be different is another thing. There will be changes and the rate of change will be depending on various things.

"Some of it will depend on players moving themselves on. Players who are out of contract - their situation is slightly different but there will be a mixture.”

One player who has been spoken about previously of departing the club is Nahki Wells, who was subject of interest from Severnside rivals Cardiff City on Deadline Day.

City twice rejected the advances of the Welsh club and instead the Bermudan international stayed put at Ashton Gate, where his situation has barely changed.

The player himself has publicly admitted his frustration over the lack of opportunities but the positive relationship he has with his manager.

That has majorly been down to the form of attacking trio Chris Martin, Semenyo, and Andi Weimann, which has made it difficult to accommodate Wells in the starting 11.

But despite the lack of playing time, Pearson reiterated that Wells shouldn’t be a player the media speculate about moving on to bring down the wage bill.

“I look at someone like Nahki Wells this year, he’s been brilliant,” he expressed.

“How he has kept himself going, but you watch him train, wow, different class. I know when he’s required he will go out and do the job he is required to do but he wants to play regularly. He’s here next year and if he’s here I’d be really happy to have him.

“If he was one of the players you were thinking of that, don’t speculate about him as I’m really pleased I have got him. What I can’t do I can’t promise him more chances next year.

“It’s not about judging players about how much they get paid it’s about what is best for the team. I don’t care if a player earns absolutely minimum wage compared to his squad. If he’s the best selection for any given day he will play.”