Time for football clubs to stop giving in to these terms?
Much of the talk over the past week or so has been Mohamed Diame’s £3.5 million release clause in his West Ham United contract. Prior to his game changing substitute appearance against Chelsea he had been impressing the Hammers fans with his combative midfield performances, but seemed to be slipping under the ‘interest radar’ as the January transfer window approached.
One outstanding performance seems to have changed all of that and his name is being linked with various top clubs in the Premier League who might be prepared to active the small minimum fee release clause the Hammers agreed to in the contract he signed in the summer.
Diame’s hamstring injury, picked up against Liverpool on Sunday, might well be a blessing in disguise for the Hammers, especially if he is out for the initially reported three months. No club is going to sign him in January if he’s crocked, which gives Sam Allardyce the rest of the season to negotiate a new and improved deal for the Senegalese international.
But if Diame is right when he claims his injury might only keep him sidelined for three weeks, then West Ham might be left ruing the decision to agree such terms with a player who already looks to have been one of the signings of the season after he joined Upton Park on a free from Wigan.
But why do club’s continue to agree to such terms when negotiating contracts? Demba Ba’s contract at Newcastle is similar and the relegation release clause he had when he was at West Ham should have been a warning for Alan Pardew that a release clause does not do the club any favours.
If West Ham and Newcastle lose Diame and Ba in January it will most probably have a detrimental affect on the rest their respective campaigns. On his day, Ba is a lethal goal scorer and could fetch at least £15 million when he’s on top form. Diame, in my book, is worth at least £10 million, so to see him leave for a mere £3.5 million would be a disaster.
Players who sign for clubs on free transfers seem to be the main ones who insist on having these clauses in their contracts. Teams, such as West Ham, who are desperate to secure a player’s services ahead of rivals or better/bigger clubs, agree to them believing that in time they can offer them a new contract minus the clause.
But it’s a clever tactic by the likes of Ba and Diame. They perform well and generate interest from bigger clubs who are better equipped to pay them more money and possibly more success on the field. Their current club has to admit that there is indeed a release clause and there’s nothing they can do to stop the player leaving, which leads to them handing the player a “sorry you’re leaving” card and tearfully waving goodbye.
But when will these clubs learn? The first thing a player should be asked before contract negotiations begin is whether they want to play for the club and what their aspirations are. If the two parties can’t come to an agreement or feel that the move isn’t right for them then that should be that. Deal off.
A release clause is a way of saying “I’ll come and play for you but if other clubs are interested I’m leaving and there’s nothing you can do about it.” Shouldn’t clubs be aware of that? This sort of approach can only damage the club’s prospects, especially when the player is such an important asset to the team.
With the Newcastle case, however, Ba leaving for £7 million might not be a bad thing after all. They have Pappis Cisse there who has shown that he is more than capable of scoring goals, but seems to struggle when he’s playing alongside Demba Ba. That’s a rare situation Newcastle find themselves in, but West Ham don’t have the same luxury. They have no back up for Diame and, as current form shows, they struggle to perform without him in the team.
It’s a ridiculous situation the likes of Newcastle and West Ham currently find themselves in and no club should have to sit there and watch their best player leave, powerless to where he goes and for how much.
So rather than agree to the release clause, clubs need to put their foot down and let the player know that if they want to sign then it’s for the duration of the contract (and possibly beyond) and that if they think they can play for a better club they should think twice about signing on the dotted line at a club that isn’t at the standards they require.
Only then will we see club’s being able to appreciate a player’s contribution without the worry of them leaving for a fraction of what they are worth.
Do you think release clauses on contracts are damaging to the clubs that agree to them? Or do players have a right to have a way out of their contract if things aren’t going well or if another club shows interest? Leave your thoughts below.