Barnsley F.C. crest
Barnsley F.C. crest (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Whilst it won’t be news to many Reds fans, today saw the official departure of Jacob Butterfield from the club following a saga beginning over 6 months ago, when a tackle from Leeds’ Michael Brown delayed the impending departure of the Reds’ skipper to the Premier League in the January window. Since then it’s been a case of rumours and guesswork for the Reds fans and management – ‘Will he? Won’t he?’, ‘How much will it be worth?’, ‘Will it have to go to tribunal?’. Today brought all the answers to these questions, as it appears that Norwich City offered less than £500,000 in compensation for the player, which Barnsley duly rejected, leading to the need for a tribunal which will be set by the club in due course.

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.

As always make sure to comment below with your views, and don't forget to follow me @MichaelRoach55 and @OnThePontyEnd on Twitter. Thanks for reading!

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Anonymous said...

Simple answer - No!

The only way we can get players to sign is to offer them contract weighted in the players favour. What you are suggesting would cause players not to sign in the first place.

So BFC are damned if they do and damned if they don't.

Barnsley Matchday Drinkers said...

Agree with previous comment.

2 thoughts:

1) wouldn't have been bothered had he been released two years ago but vast improvement
2) very worried about Steele being next

I chose £1 million for the specific reason of it being in my opinion the compromise between club and player. As a player, from this deal you'd get:

£100,000 up front with typical 10% takings from a transfer deal

Less demand from clubs because you're more expensive, but you'd actually get more effective demand: clubs willing to pay for you and more likely to play you as a result, setting you up for a longer term career in the premiership - cheaper players are seen by clubs as lower risk therefore are less likely to be played and get less opportunity.

So as a player, you could get more opportunities to leave at 500k than at a million, I understand this, but for good players who back themselves, a million release clause is smarter because you'd get a bigger pay day and greater chance at success in the long term.

The main point from the blog was why does BFC get shafted all the time yet Crewe manage to get £4 million for an 18 year old? How did Crystal Palace get Wilfried Zaha to stay. Our club isn't the richest and whilst it can't offer the best wages, I believe player retention or sale revenue would be much better with smarter contracts - using either my solution or not

Anonymous said...

Not sure on the two examples above but a lot of loyalty comes from players being brought through the club from a young age. Problem for Barnsley is that although we have spent a lot of money on the academy we have failed to produce a million pound player for many years whereas Crewe and Palace have had a conveyor belt of them.