FFP has turned the transfer market into a lottery where jugglers run the circus

You know when the flag drops at the start of the Grand National and the thunder of hoofs puncture the ear. It's like Custer's Last Stand. Well, the transfer market has heated up like the weather as we approach June 30, the end of the accounting year for FFP purposes.

The runners and riders are in full flight. Newcastle like many are jockeying for position and casualties are everywhere. Deals in and out go down like the fallers at Aintree.

Michael Olise and Aaron Ramsdale were declared non-starters and Tosin went at the first fence, distracted by a Chelsea Pensioner waving a cheque book. James Trafford is buried in the middle of the field picking his way through without pressure. Yankuba Minteh, the surprising hot favourite to take the winner's prize, was unexpectedly flattened while tipped to wear the colours of Everton but is up and running again with others looking to take advantage and pin their rosette on him. Dominic Calvert-Lewin has done a Devon Loch with the winning post in sight.

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Callum Wilson is still at the races setting the pace alongside Minteh. They are the front runners in the Money Stakes. Both due to take part in the morning sales allowing United to bring in others. It really is chaos.

FFP has turned the transfer market into a lottery where jugglers run the circus. Deadlines are all over the place - June 30 to remain within FFP limitations and then August 30 for total closure. It is easier to shuffle money about to get round the system which is what every club wants to do and therefore deals are done which make little sense to the ordinary fan.

Eddie Howe said before the doors were flung open to wheeling and dealing United need to be clever and cute to come up with the winning numbers. Hence the delicate balancing act with Everton which sparked the Great Debate across pubs and barbies on Tyneside: Calvert-Lewin or Wilson, who is the best? Or was it just a like for like swap of two strikers with a chronic history of injury? Former Newcastle striker Darren Ambrose is firmly in the doubters' camp when it comes to whether or not an exchange of personnel would have been a good deal for United.

Ambrose, who played 56 games for Newcastle over three seasons at the beginning of the noughties, tells us: "Wilson offers you a little bit more. He had pace going in behind, he can hold it up, and he's good in the air. Calvert-Lewin is probably a little better as a header of the ball, he's a lot taller, but I really like Wilson who is an out and out goalscorer. The argument with both of them of course is that they cannot stay fit."

That last sentence is what had been concentrating the minds of all Toonies - and splitting opinion. True at 27 Calvert-Lewin is more than five years younger than Wilson and last season he managed to play in 32 Premier League matches out of 38 - 26 starts plus six subs appearances. However in the two campaigns before that it was only 17 out of 38 (15 starts and two more off the bench both times) which set the alarm bells ringing for some.

What brought about the sudden upturn in health? He appears to have benefited from a carefully constructed fitness regime having spent a week in 2023 at a world-renowned facility in Germany and afterwards continued a tailored rehabilitation programme at Finch Farm. Wilson of course has to be similarly treated like a delicate piece of china.

Overall comparable figures? Interestingly they have played a very similar number of PL games with Callum featuring in England's top flight eight more times than the Everton man. However Wilson comes out tops in both the goals and assists charts. He has notched 88 goals in the PL, 34 more than DCL's 54 and has 23 assists to his name compared to Calvert-Lewin's 14.

Where once the shrewd eye of the scout was the critical factor in any transfer activity now the accountants munching the figures hold the key. Hence Minteh comes in and is about to go out without anyone actually having seen him. He represents an immediate profit and therefore is expendable whether or not he will eventually live up to the promise which saw Newcastle dole out a few million themselves.

It makes perfect sense to an accountant if not to bemused supporters. I have a couple of friends who are inevitably staunch United supporters and they are angry about the whole business. They forcibly state that the laws of the land can only be made in Parliament and the actions that Manchester City are controversially pursuing are in fact to establish the illegality of the Premier League rules.

What they would like to see is Newcastle officially give notice to the PL in writing that they are being forced to take financial decisions to comply with illegal rules and the club will hold the Premier League liable if and when these rules are found to be illegal and changed accordingly.

In the weird and not-so-wonderful world of football finance as it stands the Calvert-Lewin and Minteh deals added up especially when the same two clubs were involved to legitimately maximise the figures. However the Toffees proved sticky and tricky in negotiation which means officially they are yesterday's news. At least for the moment. Could it be revisited? How long is a piece of string.

Maybe, who knows, the Merseysiders felt they got short changed when selling Anthony Gordon considering how well he has done and were wanting to make certain they got top dollar for Calvert-Lewin. No more favours!

So was it a lucky escape for United with DCL or a missed opportunity? Will they sign someone better and more reliable? Who has a clue about the current official line of reasoning when being crafty is as important a commodity as being an ace spotter of the best talent. Oh for the straight forward days of old when it was only about if you could afford it and if you would back your judgement.