Pay high wages or simply cut their losses?

Unless a team is in the Premier League or has a very wealthy backer they are unlikely to have much money to play with to bring players in. Therefore, players have to be signed for low transfer fees and low wages. Even teams in the Premier League may have to use a similar strategy or at least choose to use this strategy. Take the example of Blackpool; a team that spent comparably little on players ahead of their solitary season in the Premier League. The Blackpool manager Ian Holloway has repeatedly said that he refuses to pay wages in excess on £10,000 per week.

So the dilemma is a club with a limited budget finds a young starlet and brings them into the club. After a few seasons of playing regular first-team football; their value begins to soar. Now while the player has plenty of time on their contract this isn’t so much of a problem. However, when the star gets into the last 18 months to a year this begins to become an issue. The club will then look to agree a new contract with the player. Now in an ideal the world the player will accept a decent wage with the financial constraints the club has. But as we all know this doesn’t always happen especially if the player’s head has been turned by bigger clubs showing an interest. Then the player may ask for an excessive wage or request they move on and join the bigger club with deeper pockets.

This creates an obvious dilemma for the smaller club as they must decide if to meet the player’s demands or sell the player on. But there is of course a third option of allowing the player to run down the contract and hope that personal terms can be agreed at some point. However if the terms cannot not be agreed then the club will risk losing the player for nothing.

Sometimes though a club may feel that they are better off using a player for the last year of the contract and then losing them for nothing; clearly this is the case due to the high number of quality bosman transfers that are available each summer. Critics may say why would a club allow a player to run down his contract and then leave for nothing? Well a couple of things need to be kept in mind here; the proposed market value of the player and the advantage of using a player over a period of time rather than selling them. It’s obviously really but a player in the last year of their contract is highly unlikely to command a high transfer fee in comparison with the potential transfer fee they would have if they had 5 years remaining on their contract.

Now if the club is in mid-table then they may be best advised to sell the player on for any transfer fee they can get. However, if the club is involved in the promotion/relegation picture then the situation may be quite different. Even if the player is out of contract at the end of that season; the player could be persuaded to stay and sign a new contract if the club is successful in staying up or gaining promotion. Also the club may take the view that the money in gaining promotion or staying in a division is more significant than any individual transfer fee for one player.

But as ever with contracts the issue isn’t always black and white and it isn’t always a case of if the player will sign or not and there could be any number of reasons why a player won’t sign. Sometimes the player won’t sign purely for financial reasons; but length of contract or desire to win trophies could also be contributing factors. Therefore, an ambitious player that doesn’t see his long-term future at the club; may only be prepared to sign a short term deal with a significant weekly wage and a possible get out clause for a set fee.

So should a club accept such terms or take the view that no player in bigger than the club? Well my opinion is they should not agree to these terms. At this point the player should be allowed to leave and the club should look for their next star. Smaller clubs must accept that there comes a time when a player should be allowed to leave. However, it’s important to get the balance right because a team can’t be selling all their best players when they reach a certain level. But it’s time for smaller clubs to get smart by having a scouting system that recruits young players and if they turn out to be superstars then sell them on and then reinvest that money in the team. Smaller clubs should not pay crazy wages but find ways to be successful with an element of financial control.

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