John Williams, the Blackburn Rovers chairman, admits that the club are finding it increasingly difficult to compete with their Premier League rivals on a financial front.
Rovers made a £6.6m operating profit in 2007-08 and, although most of that money has been reinvested in wages, the club are still falling behind in the salary stakes. Blackburn spend about 80 per cent of their turnover on wages – £39.7m in 2007-08 – to attract and keep the best players, but without huge gate receipts or a wealthy backer, they are gradually being squeezed out by other top-flight clubs.
"We would prefer our wages to be a lower percentage of our turnover," Williams said. "It is our lot in life to try to be as competitive as we can and it means we have to control non-football expenditure very tightly. That enables us to pay a bit more in wages."
Operating at such extremes means that the club have to be extra careful in their transfer policy. But Blackburn will stubbornly resist the need to sell off their prize assets to balance the books – highlighted by their success in holding on to Roque Santa Cruz.
"There is a huge difference between clubs who can't afford to buy but don't need to sell and those who have to sell," Williams said. "We don't actually need the £20m for Roque. The problem is it invariably gets harder and harder to replace on a like-for-like basis. It's all about good scouting, selling high and buying low. Can we keep repeating that trick? I think we can, but what we can't do is make a big mistake.
"You can make a small mistake, everyone does, but we can't go out and spend £5m on a player who is not good enough. That would kill us because our finances are so finely balanced."
The real concern for Blackburn is safeguarding their Premier League status, something that is is jeopardy with the club 18th in the table.