Latics guest column: Jonathan Jackson

Jonathan Jackson
Jonathan Jackson

Our priority during the transfer window was keeping hold of the key players we had, who are going to be important to us achieving what we want to achieve this season – and we managed to do that.

Apart from Alex Gilbey, we managed to hold on to every one of the players the supporters would have wanted us to.

There’s always speculation and there’s always interest in good players.

But it was never our intention to sell any of our top players – unless it was right for the football club and right for the player.

And we never had those kind of decisions to make.

All of the players are happy to still be here – well they didn’t have any choice really, as they are all under contract!

But joking aside, it’s a good place to be at the moment.

There’s a really good spirit around the place at the training ground, and that translates to performances on the pitch.

As far as the budget is concerned, it’s where we wanted it to be.

It’s still comparatively high for this league – I’m sure we’ll be one of the highest budgets in the division in terms of playing costs.

With that comes with the desire to achieve promotion but, yes, I’m comfortable with it.

It is a challenging financial environment for us in the post-parachute payments era, and I have already talked about that a lot.

It means the football club has to work harder to ensure we are run on a sustainable basis and that we look after the future.

We’re certainly not gambling with the future of the football club – that would be wrong to do that.

We have to be sustainable, and we have to look at ways we can work towards getting back to a level where we were before – within a sustainable framework.

The parachute payments for the last couple of years have been between £10-12million.

That is obviously an awful lot of money to lose from your turnover levels.

It means we have to somehow replace that, or reduce the budget, which we’ve tried to do.

Still, in League One, our budget is high, and the manager is very happy with the squad at his disposal.

And as a club we’re happy we’re within our means. It’s a sustainable budget for the future.

The team has obviously started the season very well on the field.

We don’t like to set targets, and put undue pressure on the manager.

It’s about developing the football club, albeit on a different level financially to where we were before.

It’s about ensuring we progress, we develop young players, and we continue to improve our facilities and academy.

Those are the key areas, along with obviously achieving success on the field, because our number one priority in the short-term is promotion back to the Championship, and long-term to develop and build the club on strong foundations to get back to the Premier League.

I don’t think in football you can label a club at a certain level.

Obviously the top clubs generally remain in the Premier League.

But you only have to look at where Bournemouth and Swansea were not too long ago – and the likes of Coventry and Portsmouth – to see how things can change very quickly.

A number of things determine that.

Obviously it’s all about results on the pitch, but that can be affected by investment off the pitch, and the type of ownership mould you have.

As a club, we’ve been used to being in the Premier League in the last decade, but prior to that we were very much a lower-league club.

Ideally we’d all like to be back in the Premier League, to enjoy the financial rewards of that.

But at the same time it is very hard to compete even in the Championship these days, because of the amount of money involved in and around the Premier League.

It’s hard to achieve that stability, but it does feel a little bit like we’re starting again, with a different financial model.

Paul Cook’s come in to the club with a really positive outlook, he’s a great personality, very lively, and it’s what the training ground needed.

The players know where they stand with him, the standard of play, what’s expected of them.

We’ve already seen the benefits of that, and the way the players have responded.

A key part of stability off the pitch is keeping that management structure together, and keeping a relatively stable squad.

That’s difficult to achieve but, once you get that stability off the pitch, hopefully we’ll start to see that success on the field.

We’re very happy with the make-up of the squad now.

It’s a lot leaner – we’ve got 10 players out on loan, and we’ve never been in a position before where we’ve been able to get so many young players – the likes of Chris Merrie at Southport, Callum Lang at Morecambe, Sam Stubbs at Crewe – out there.

That means the academy is working, where we’re developing players of a sufficient standard to play league football.

We’ve never had those numbers before, so that’s another real positive to come from the transfer window.