Robbo will get money to spend in January

Karl Robinson and Pete Winkelman. PNL-151224-130239002
Karl Robinson and Pete Winkelman. PNL-151224-130239002

Chairman Pete Winkelman will open his chequebook this January to ensure MK Dons stay up this season.

Promotion to the Championship has been a more costly exercise than the club had anticipated, with manager Karl Robinson oft lamenting the size of his budget in his battle to keep Dons in the second tier.

Andrew Cullen PNL-151224-125224002

Andrew Cullen PNL-151224-125224002

However, with the transfer window looming and Dons on the edge of the relegation zone, Executive Director Andrew Cullen confirmed money will be at the manager’s disposal to ensure Dons stay up.

Speaking exclusively to the Citizen, Cullen said: “To stay in the Championship, it will require investment in January. We recognise that and will make it happen.

“The step up has been harder than any of us expected in terms of the finances that are needed to compete with the big teams in this league.

“Nevertheless, we’ve increased our budget this year but we recognise coming into January that we need to strengthen the squad.

Karl Robinson

Karl Robinson

“We have a number of key positions we’re working hard on. Karl and the recruitment staff have been out relentlessly in the last few weeks, going to watch a number of different targets at different levels. We’re confident we’ll be adding to the squad in January.

“It’ll require investment, but the chairman is willing to back Karl and willing to ensure, over the next month, this club is given the best chance to go into 2016/17 as a Championship club.

“The chairman is investing every penny he has. The resources we’re working within aren’t as big as the likes of Derby or Middlesbrough, but we’re not a Bolton in £175m of debt, unable to pay the players. It’s about being sensible.”

Though there will be funds available for Robinson to improve on his squad, Cullen was keen to emphasise to fans that it still won’t put Dons on a level playing field with the division’s top spenders.

“The budget we’re working with is a long way from those at the top, but will be around those at the bottom. There is a degree of financial order in the Championship.

“For us, we’re working within a model of sustainability.

“Last year we made a profit, thanks to a big transfer fee. Without it, we’d have lost a considerable amount on money. But the losses are sustainable thanks to the other facilities we have - the hotel and the arena.

“We want to be progressive, so we’ll leave no stone unturned. But some clubs are spending five or six million pounds more on wages than their annual turnover - that’s the gamble they’re taking to get to the Premier League.

“We have worked extremely hard to get the club to the Championship. Having worked so hard to get here, we’re determined to stay for many years to come.

“And the longer we can sustain ourselves here, the more real our dream of becoming a Premier League club becomes. To get there, we have to be a solid, sustainable club.”

Though Dons find themselves in a difficult position, sat 21st after 22 games and just a point above the relegation zone, Cullen says Robinson and the current squad have the full backing of the board.

“They’ve done a magnificent job,” he said. “Karl continues to excel as a manager, getting the best from players he can.

“It has been a tough half a season, but the players have been absolutely brilliant from start to finish in virtually every game we’ve played. They’ll have confidence too that they’ll go out and have great second half based on how they’ve already played. They’ve not fallen short.”