State of Play: Stoke City – a club in exile

STOKE CITY have been in a better place than they are today and not many people are predicting they will win promotion from the Championship in 2022-23. The “experts” believe Stoke will finish just above mid-table, which will be progress on the past four seasons and the best placing since they were relegated from the Premier League in 2018.

The current campaign will be their fifth since then, there is a danger they are getting too comfortable at that level. The pandemic hasn’t helped them, but then it has been a struggle for many Championship clubs given the trend of the second-tier clubs paying far too much out in wages in a bid to win a place in the promised land of the Premier. Stoke, in 2020-21, saw their wage-to-income ratio jump to 119%, their second successive season when player expenses went above 100%. Again, the pandemic has to be considered, but it underlines the precarious nature of football club finance.

Despite having one of the Championship’s highest wage bills, Stoke were 14th in 2021-22 and 2020-21. In their four Championship seasons since relegation, they have never finished higher and have seldom looked like promotion candidates.
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2 thoughts on “State of Play: Stoke City – a club in exile

  1. Interesting piece, but not without significant flaws both in terms of facts and general perceptions of the club.
    Reference is made to the Pulis years, and yet there is no mention of Mark Hughes under which Stoke produced some of the best football seen at the ground since the 1970’s and three top ten finishes on the bounce.
    Mention could also be made of the drag on finances that the expensive but eventual “flop’ players had on the club until the beginning of 2021/22, which, when combined with FFP has hamstrung the current management team.

    Stoke are increasingly using their expensively funded Grade 1 academy to bring through younger players into the first team , something that really couldn’t be done in the premier league. Whether these players, and clever signings like Lewis Baker are enough to get them into contention for the playoffs we will see.

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