|Barnsley F.C. crest (Photo credit: Wikipedia)|
In Keith Hill’s recent interview with Radio Sheffield’s Paul Walker (link here), he indicated that Norwich’s valuation was an insult to the club, the fans, the player, his teammates and the coaching staff – which raises questions of our recent ‘big’ departures. Over the past few years, we’ve appeared to lose our talismanic players for no more than £500,000 – which must make fans question, what is wrong with our dealings?
Whilst it’s clear that the Butterfield deal certainly wasn’t helped with his injury, and that we might have got the funds to keep our season on track had we sold him in January, the fact is that only now do we have the chance to move on. However the club still remains somewhat in limbo. Whilst the club has lost a player, it has to wait to be paid, and still can’t proceed with it’s plans – if it is reliant on the funds to acquire new recruits that is. In this case a lot of blame has gone to the player. And whilst I would never deny a young person the opportunity to fulfill their potential, it would have been nice for him to protect Barnsley by extending his contract. I’m not saying that we should have tied him down and held him at the club – but he could have protected his value, well in the knowledge that a club such as ours would never stand in his way if the Premiership came calling.
The same could be said of past departures: Vaz Te, Hammill and more. All have been good players and all have had their shot at the premiership, yet none have given the club just that extra 6 months they wanted from the player. For me, some of the blame has to go to the players. Whilst it’s important to grab opportunities, sometimes it’s more important to improve at your current club, have a good full season, and help the club to a higher finish. As a result, surely as a player you’d be less likely to end up on the bench, or out on loan back to where you started in the Championship?
But here’s where the club comes in. Whilst it would appear the best option is to stay with the club to earn a better deal in the long term; by the time our club has offered a new deal, it looks small in comparison to premiership wages.Whilst some accept player departure as inevitability, why should it be for a pittance? The club continually asks players to protect it, yet does the club afford the players the same respect? As stated above, the club always comes in with the deal AFTER the player has been shown a taste of premiership life. For me, the solution comes in doing contract renewals earlier and smarter.
Take the Butterfield deal. He was made captain, given an Under 21 call up and was our key player by October. Why review that situation in January? You could argue that the player might not accept a deal in fear of being tied down – though the club could, and perhaps should stress that if a premiership club came in, we wouldn’t stand in the way. For me, a win-win in this situation would be setting a minimum fee release clause in EVERY professional contract at the club. Whilst it proved the devil in the Hammill deal, it was clearly set too low – however in my opinion we should set a minimum fee release of £1 million for every player by default. Agents don’t like them as they can sometimes prove stumbling blocks for future buying clubs. But the way I see it is this: if a club is truly interested in a player and doesn’t just want to take a ‘punt’ on a player who’s come into a bit of form, then most premiership clubs can certainly afford to spend a million. Of course not all of our players will be worth that, but it gives the club bargaining power, protects player value and to an extent actually guarantees players and agents a better cut of a more expensive deal. Even if the club takes a gamble on somebody from league 2 and he proves a dud, we can sell him at any price – but if he comes good, we’ll be getting a million. If we want more, then we give the player an offer early, increase his release fee and then either hold onto the player or reap the reward.
So here comes my rallying cry to the club. I’ve mentioned before that Luke Steele is in the last year of his contract and he’s our player of the year. Let’s stop getting a pittance, and let’s put a decent release clause in his contract. To me Luke Steele isn’t a risk to offer a new contract to – he’s our player of the season and an up and coming goalkeeper. Let’s either ensure that he has a long term future at the club, or at the very least we get true value for money should he decide to move on. As for the potentially risky Mido, it’s fine to give him a one year deal – but if he hits form, let’s offer him an extension ahead of January and get him signed with a release clause. That way, we protect his value but let him leave if he wants to.
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