Cod Almighty | Diary
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8 July 2019
Trentside Diary writes: A message winged its way by pigeon to Cod Almighty Towers this week bringing a little insight into the secretive world of football agents and contract negotiations. We don’t often hear much about the wheeler-dealering that goes on to get a player signed but this was just a little snippet that Town fans can enjoy as it concerns our recently demoted neighbours along the A180.
In the 90s it was managers in the spotlight, with allegations that "Cloughie liked a bung" (for younger fans, a bag of cash handed over at a motorway service station) to smooth the way for a transfer and George Graham being sacked for pocketing a slice of a transfer fee. Move on to the 00s and it was our former manager Newells making claims that the game was being destroyed by corrupt agents. That came back to bite him when Luton claimed he received £500,000 from fees for sold players when he was manager. All as murky as No.1 dock when they were sluicing out the fish boxes. I digress: let’s get back to the wheeler-dealering.
You might have picked up in the Telewag that there is a Scunny player who can’t bring himself to play in the fourth division so he wants to activate the relegation clause in his contract and move to play for the Hibbies. Edinburgh or Scunthorpe? A bit of a no-brainer. Trouble is, he had to have signed by 31 May and those pesky Scottish folk don’t open their transfer window until 11 June. Result? Stalemate. Funso’s having no fun and gone on strike – not that I imagine he was doing much in June anyway.
Move on to the end of June and a proud follower of the mighty Mariners is about to take a flight back from Milan (I’m just hoping he may be there scouting for GTFC, but somehow don’t think so) when "a chap in flip-flops, shorts, flash watch, aviators, a pair of crutches and a knee scar on his left leg boards just before the doors were closed. He brandished his boarding pass, TOLD the steward that he NEEDED the priority aisle seat for his leg to keep stretched, and that he would have the seat he pointed to. Other passengers were taken aback by the sense of entitlement he showed and that he got his own way. The steward moved another passenger for him." Can you believe the cheek?
The tale continues: "Before we took off he answered his phone. A one-sided (from my perspective) call took place that we could all hear. I didn't twig anything for a few minutes, then he mentioned Scunthorpe. I listened in, and it was all out there for everyone to hear. Very unprofessional to discuss the contract talks, the release clause, the visits to the doctor for the player for 'issues', the need to move, the fact this player didn't want to play in League 2, etc... no name mentioned, but a quick google when landing shows who the Scunthorpe player is. Unprofessional, egotistical. I could have been Paul Hurst sat across from him, I could have been the Scunthorpe chairman, I was in fact just a random Town fan. I don't think I like football agents."
It’s not hugely lucrative being a lower-league footballer. Contracts are short, wages aren’t usually eye-watering and you don’t live in a rarefied world. I’m sure many young footballers don’t have people around who they can trust or have the skills to negotiate for them and so an agent must seem like their best option. Sadly, Funso’s badly written contract was probably down to the agent, but like many politicians he is probably adept at deflecting the blame.
I am sure that there are some agents who are doing a good job in looking after players, but you have to wonder if this is still one more problem in the game. It certainly contributes to the extortionate transfer deals, inflating the already high price of players to pay the agent’s fee. In this world smaller clubs like Town will never realistically compete for players. Bringing on the youngsters is the way to go. UTM!