There are certainly reasons to be cheerful for Preston North End fans as we close in on the end of the 2021/22 campaign.
Their push for the Championship play-offs never really took off under Ryan Lowe but there are signs that next season could be an exciting one for the club – particularly if they can get this summer right.
Lowe was appointed in December meaning he’s only had the January transfer window to shape his squad and he will likely be busy over the next few months trying to strengthen it further.
Preston are on course for a mid-table finish at the moment but does that represent a decent return in the manager’s first season in charge?
To assess that and the strength of the squad that Lowe has to work with, we’ve taken a look at how his current group matches up with the rest of the clubs in the Championship this season in terms of cost, according to football finance expert Kieran Maguire.
The total cost of all the squads in the Championship per their most recent accounts come to £1,193 million. Over a third of the total relates to two clubs. pic.twitter.com/5wbgnveFjc
— Price Of Football (@KieranMaguire) April 20, 2022
Maguire’s numbers indicate that the Preston squad cost £12.5 million – making it the ninth-cheapest in the Championship in that regard.
That suggests that a mid-table finish is a good achievement, particularly given how long Lowe has been at the helm.
Only four of the 14 sides above the Whites in the table at the moment – Luton Town (£3.4m), Coventry City (£5.6m), Millwall (£7.5m), and QPR (£8.3m) – have cheaper squads than Preston and it is telling that all four have managers that have been at the helm for some time.
In terms of comparisons to their local rivals. The Whites squad cost £3.9 million less than Blackburn Rovers (£16.4m), who are seven places above them in the table, but £11.5 million more than Blackpool (£1.4m), who are one place below them and have the cheapest in the division.
Preston North End quiz: Does Deepdale have a bigger or smaller capacity than these 20 stadiums?
The fact that there are 10 Championship clubs with squads that cost more than double Preston’s and two – Fulham and Bournemouth – that cost more than 10 times more highlights the size of the task facing the Deepdale outfit and other teams with smaller budgets in the second tier.
Though the success of the likes of Luton and Millwall shows challenging for the play-offs is achievable for sides that have spent less, Maguire’s numbers illustrate that investment will likely be needed if Lowe is to get the North West club where they want to be.