I had a long chat with St Johnstone chairman Steve Brown this Christmas Eve.
With Saints in freefall and relegation now a clear and present danger, Brown is preparing to dig into the substantial funds available at McDiarmid Park to answer those asking serious questions over the running of the club.
Ironically, the Perth side’s current collapse comes in the middle of the most successful period in their history.
Well-connected folk tell me the club could be sitting with anything between five and seven million pounds available to aid their current plight at the bottom of the Premiership.
Between the money from their two cup successes, their European competition earnings, the sales of Ali McCann and Jason Kerr, and an interest-free loan from the Scottish Government repayable over 25 years – added to an already healthy bank balance – Saints are in a very strong financial position.
They may be cash rich, but they’re results poor.
Manager Callum Davidson has performed a miracle to win the League and Scottish Cups, but he needs improved performances from those tasked with identifying fresh talent to strengthen the squad, or all his great work to date could end in tears and a berth in the Championship.
Between the loan players who’ve been brought in and the two top performers sold and not replaced with similar quality, Davidson is entitled to wonder if he’s been sold short.
Excellent player identification was always a key strategy in the appointment of any manager at Saints.
The ability to spot players with the required skill set to fit Perth requirements was always an imperative for hiring a Saints boss – and, in general, results have been very satisfactory.
Something has gone badly wrong with that strategy though.
Davidson needs major assistance from the club’s heads of recruitment and football operations in the vital function of scouting, discovering and signing new talent that fits the required mould.
It’s an onerous task, as can be clearly seen when it goes as badly wrong as it has done in this league campaign.
A summer in which there was always the possibility of Saints losing some of their best players was the ideal time for major strengthening for the future and identifying quality replacements.
The main area of concern for Saints is up front, with the strikers brought in proving inadequate, and the midfield needs seriously supplemented too.
Chairman Steve Brown has taken flak over the sales of Ali McCann and Jason Kerr; both key performers in the double winning side.
The decision to move McCann on so late in the transfer window is one which angered fans.
But heading to Preston probably saw the midfielder’s wages go up by a multiple of around six times, and Kerr’s ambitions also lay away from Perth.
When players are determined to move and agents have lined up lucrative deals for them, trying to thwart them is a futile gesture in the long run.
However that’s where solid homework has to be done by those in charge of recruitment and player identification – key positions responsible for ensuring the ongoing health of the club.
The manager has proven his credentials by winning two cups.
Now those who are there to assist him must prove they have what it takes to dig Saints out of the deep hole they find themselves in, which is the result of their failure to strengthen the squad with the requisite quality.
I’m told the manager will get what he needs to help Saints out of the hole they’re in – so Steve Brown is going to have to dive into that pile of cash at McDiarmid.
The hole they’re in is a deep one and it’ll require hefty spending to escape.
It’s a price that will have to be paid though; cash in the bank will be of little comfort in the Championship and it’ll soon burn through if crowds fall away and income dries up.
As others have discovered it’s no quick job returning to the top tier after suffering relegation.
Saints are prepared to spend, with up to six players being targeted, but the January window is a notoriously difficult one in which to strengthen well.
Other folks’ cast-offs, injury problems and fitness issues are often all that’s available, even with money to spend.
The McDiarmid Park bank balance is about to take a serious hit in the fight to escape a basement battle.
Let’s hope those tasked with spending it are going to ensure value for money.