Tony Mowbray says the threat of Financial Fair Play looms large and believes Rovers’ best chance of competing in the Championship is through player trading.

Reading became the second team this season to be punished for breaching Profit & Sustainability rules, with Rovers only avoiding sanction due to the sale of their Brockhall training ground.

The sale of Adam Armstrong to Southampton offers Rovers a buffer for the year to June 2022, with Championship clubs only able to lose up to £39m across a three-year period.

Armstrong’s exit was only a second significant transfer recouped by Rovers during Mowbray’s tenure, following David Raya’s sale to Brentford in 2019, but the manager believes recruitment is the key to plugging the gap to the clubs in receipt of parachute payments.

He told the Lancashire Telegraph: “I think the club should protect itself, work within the rules, I think the only way to get yourself out of this league is to trade your way out of it, so get recruitment right.

“That’s why (head of recruitment) John (Park) is in the building with us every day. We get recruitment I think the club, long-term, have a real chance of competing.”

Mowbray believes remaining FFP compliant and competing in the Championship is an increasingly difficult balancing act.

Reading followed Derby County in receiving a points deduction for breaching financial rules, with Sheffield Wednesday and Birmingham City having been penalised in previous seasons.

Mowbray says not jeopardising the long-term future of the club has to be at the forefront of every decision made, but said: “I don’t advise Suhail (Pasha) and Steve (Waggott), I just think that this club shouldn’t put itself in danger.

“That works against me because as the current manager, ‘give me as much money as you can and I’ll get as many good players as I can and try and get us promotion’. Yet it doesn’t really work like that.”

Rovers’ average attendance so far this season is 11,720, with only four clubs in the division having a smaller figure, though their wage to turnover ratio of 189 per cent one of the highest, and a contributing factor to their £20.1m operating loss in 2019/20.

Chief executive Steve Waggott has long advocated the scrapping of Profit and Sustainability Rules. Instead he would prefer to follow the Salary Management Cost Protocol model of League One and League Two where a percentage of revenue earned is able to be spent on the playing squad.

The £16.6m sale of Brockhall to a newly-formed arm of owners Venky’s meant Rovers avoided any embargo or sanction for this season, while Armstrong’s sale, and a slashing of the wage bill following the departure of a host of senior players, will offer them headroom heading into next season.

Rovers beat the June 30 deadline for the sale of an asset, such as a training ground, to be included in the P&S calculations, with that particular avenue to clubs now closed.

“It is really difficult. Breaking rules? It’s because it’s not a black and white rule,” Mowbray added.

“It’s really difficult over the course of a season to work out what you’re going to lose, wrap three seasons together and instead of losing £39m you’ve lost whatever over, yet you don’t really know your income or how many fans you’re going to have through the door.

“You know what your expenditure is going to be generally, unless you sign another player or you increase someone’s salary to protect an asset and that takes you over, that’s the difficulty of it.

“It’s fluent and moving all the time and it seems to be difficult to stay under that parameter of giving yourself the very best chance to succeed, but then not to break the rules and be in breach.

“This club, it can be frustrating. The bottom line is that we aren’t a club who get 25,000 or 30,000 in, I don’t sit here knowing the revenue numbers, I know there’s the TV money and sponsorship, but some clubs have 20,000 plus supporters in and I’m not sure what that equates to in income, and how it helps, but the balance, because of the Profit & Sustainability, our salaries can only get to a certain height to make sure we don’t breach those rules.”

Alongside player trading Rovers see their Category One Academy, which requires a £2m investment from the club to secure a £1m grant, as a key for building asset value within the squad.