Ross McCormackMiddlesbrough are said to have upped their offer for Ross McCormack to £1.3m, the second bid Leeds United have rejected for the Scottish striker.

Rejected offers are an encouraging sign for Whites fans, one which signals an end to Ken Bates’ transfer policies. There’s little doubt that had ‘cuddly Ken’ still been owner of Leeds United, Middlesbrough would have been printing McCormack 44 shirts last week, while Bates announced plans for some new executive facility no Leeds United fan could care less about.

But that was then, and this is now. While every player has their price, it’s impossible to justify the sale of Ross McCormack for a mere £1.3m. We desperately need to clear some players off our books to strengthen the defence and the wings, but to do so by weakening us in other areas is taking one step forward and one step back.

I’ve heard the argument made that selling Ross McCormack would allow us to sign both a winger and a centre-back, thus improving two areas while losing strength in another. It sounds like a perfectly logical balancing act, sell one player for £1.3m and buy two more with the cash received.

But transfer fees aren’t really the issue at Elland Road. The trouble Brian McDermott has is Leeds United’s wage bill. I don’t know what Ross McCormack earns, but a decent Championship salary costs somewhere in the region of £10-15k per week. That’s around £500-750k per year.

Accepting £1.3m for Ross McCormack, then spending that sum on two decent Championship players doesn’t mean Brian McDermott breaks even because both players need paying. The first will simply replace McCormack’s wages, but the second is added to our yearly expenses, meaning we lose an additional £500k+ per year.

The flawed financial logic isn’t really the issue though, the bigger problem is replacing Ross McCormack. Even if McDermott was allowed to increase Leeds United’s wage bill and sign both a centre-back and a winger with the transfer fee received from McCormack’s sale, he’ll have done so by seriously weakening our attack.

Ross McCormack won’t score the amount of goals Luciano Becchio did, but his contribution in the final third is more important than anyone else in our team. On the ball, he’s more comfortable than anyone else – he keeps possession, passes it well, creates chances, runs at the opposition to drag defences around… Simply put, he’s the complete attacking midfielder. There are very few players in the Championship of McCormack’s quality and you’d get none of them for £1.3m.

Leeds United have to reduce the wage bill, but doing so by selling quality players is counter-productive to our endgame. The problem we have is the same one we had at the start of this summer, we have to clear the deadwood left behind by previous regimes, while retaining the quality players who’ll get us out of this division.