Leeds United face brutal transfer reality as financial plight laid bare in latest accounts

Leeds United manager Daniel Farke gestures on the touchline during their clash with Sunderland -Credit:PA
Leeds United manager Daniel Farke gestures on the touchline during their clash with Sunderland -Credit:PA

Leeds United have looked a shadow of their former selves since the international break. Their much-vaunted attack has not fired and the period of inactivity has derailed their momentum.

Some players returned from international duty nursing injuries and missed matches. Others are out of form and have failed to reach the heights they set in the early part of 2024.

Are the Whites running out of steam in the run-in? Daniel Farke has got the tools at his disposal to freshen the team up but, not for the first time this season, he turned to his bench late on against Sunderland. His side appeared laboured and predictable in possession and Wilfried Gnonto, Connor Roberts, Joel Piroe and Mateo Joseph should have been given longer to come on and influence proceedings.

Read more: Danny Murphy shares major Leeds United and Leicester City concern in Championship run-in

No one is asking Farke to rip everything up and start again. He knows what he is doing, having been here before with Norwich City, twice leading them to the promised land.

“It’s one win from the last four but let’s put perspective on it," EFL pundit Don Goodman told Sky Sports. "In 2024, it’s won 13, drawn three and lost one.

“If you had offered Leeds United that run of results on 1 January, I am sure they would have snatched your hand off. That’s putting it in perspective.”

There is no need to panic or for anyone to throw their toys out of the pram. This is a blip and United have the perfect man to steer the ship back on course.

Farke has, rightly, been nominated for the March manager of the month award (the winner will be announced tomorrow). He will be going for a hat-trick of wins but faces strong competition from Ipswich Town's Kieran McKenna, Norwich City's David Wagner and West Brom's Carlos Corberan. It is recognition of all the hard graft Farke has put in and the stellar job he has done to transform their fortunes.

But there is still a job to be finished. There is lot riding on the next few weeks.

The club's latest set of accounts underlined the importance of Premier League football. United's operating loss during the period June 2022 to June 2023 amounted to a staggering £106 million but the player sales of Kalvin Phillips and Raphinha to Manchester City and Barcelona respectively offset those huge losses. The big-money sales of Phillips and Raphina helped evolve the squad "whilst prudently managing the club's finances within the Premier League's Profit and Sustainabilty rules (PSR)," according to the club's strategic report.

It was a testing period for the Whites, with the wage bill soaring 20% to £146m and pay offs for head coaches such as Jesse Marsch and Javi Gracia costing £9.5m. The figures confirm United do owe £190 million in transfer instalments on player purchases, £73.6 million of which is due before year end June 2024.

Farke has created a big value in terms of assets within the playing squad. None of the crown jewels were sold off in the January transfer window as the German succeeded in keeping the team together.

But this team will, inevitably, be broken up if they come up short in their top-two pursuit or fail to go up via the play-offs.