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Vive la EU! Part 2

By: Todd Bontoft
Date: 11/09/2000

The writing is on the wall for transfer fees anyway as the actual number of transfers resulting in a purchase fee between clubs in different divisions has reduced, although the figures involved remain inflationary and subjective in the extreme. Average players going for six and seven figure sums.

The numerical fall may be in part due to the Bosman ruling but it's likely the trend will continue. Clubs including our own are now looking for out of contract players and the avoidance of paying transfer fees.

In addition, many more players are going at supermarket prices as clubs look to cut their losses and offload players before they go for nothing when their contract expires at season's end. Does a certain Jack Lester spring to mind?

Is he homesick and wanting to eat decent fish and chips again, I wonder.

The alternative is to cripple the clubs finances by offering players ludicrous terms and very long contracts. This is something that is not exactly in the interests of financial survival.

It does little to persuade me that the majority of clubs, unless you are very fortunate, will only lose in the transfer fee rat race and making it pay will become ever more difficult.

Crystal Palace's manager Alan Smith has publicly welcomed the changes and predicts some clubs may even cut their wage bill as a result. Something supporters of most small clubs may find interesting. After all, is it not the high wage bill that is the Archilles heel of most clubs that forces them into selling in the first place?

Writing in the Observer, Alan Smith states that many managers up and down the country will be celebrating, "I would estimate most managers have at least half a dozen players on the books that they would like to get rid of, but are unable to sell. Instead, those players tend to serve out their contracts in the reserves, serving no useful purpose to the club yet still draining the financial resources."

Players and clubs will find a new and more level playing field. A field where a one-year contract is the norm and player's salaries are objectively set. Where there will be no point whatsoever in offering longer contracts as players can move virtually at any time. And one where the player is paid their worth without agents and clubs arbitrarily picking lottery jackpot transfer fees out of the air.

A ridiculous and extreme case is that of Glasgow Rangers' player Marco Negri, who was paid £18,000 a week for two years of reserve football. Of course, if it were me, I would have moved to BP, taking a swinging wage cut, just to play first team football. But apparently, some professionals aren't like that.

Players may become more nomadic than at present, but that is not too daunting a task for the game's administrators ensuring it doesn't become farcical. There will simply need to be controls as in other sports say, limiting the number of registered players, or bringing the transfer deadline earlier in the season, or limiting the number of clubs a player can represent in any one season. Players are already cup tied.

At town we have too small a squad and players must join! But it needs to be achieved by cutting our cloth accordingly and not relying on transfer income.

Back to that old chestnut - Bums on seats - again!

Todd Bontoft

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