With the news that Steven Fletcher has handed in a formal transfer request at Wolves I felt it raised a quite interesting issue about football transfers. After becoming the subject of interest from Sunderland recently, obviously Steven Fletcher would relish the chance of playing in the Premier League once again. After being possibly one of very few players to come out of last season’s disastrous Molineux campaign with anything reaching near distinction, he now seems destined for the exit.
But what is this phrase ‘forcing a move’ all about? It is quite common in modern sports media, with Luka Modric, Clint Dempsey & Joleon Lescott among the many names reportedly to have used this tool to effectively try and leave their clubs.
I am not claiming to be an expert on employment law but the way footballer’s contracts are structured does seem to be somewhat peculiar. It is rare for people to support players throughout these times but I don’t understand, on a basic level, if somebody wants to leave their current job for a better one, a different challenge or a pay rise; why they shouldn’t be allowed too?
For a footballer to do so they have to go through the rigmarole of transfer fees, various conjecture and occasional fan hating. They can’t just hand in a notice relative to their salaries and leave after working that period.
However players do know what they are doing when they commit themselves to 5 year deals worth millions of pounds of their employer’s money, so the fault lies at their door also. If they aren’t willing to commit for such a long time sign lower length deals. But then deals will be harder to come by, nobody wants to spend X amount of money on a player who wants to jump ship for nothing in 2 years.
The structure of transfers and high player wages is a direct influence on the amount of interest and high quality of football in the Premier League, so therefore to complain about the way it currently works is to contradict the success of the Premier League. I could watch lower league football but the fact is; it is simply not as entertaining.
But what I don’t understand is how footballers have anything approaching ‘player power’. Being in a position where to get the best ‘jobs’ in football you have to commit to long term contractual fees doesn’t sound like power to me. These contracts can only be broken when your employers make either a profit on the ceasing of your employment, decide they don’t want you anymore or you stay there for the entirety of that deal?
In Steven Fletcher's case for instance, it is fair to say £12million is more than his worth and for him to have to ‘force a move’ at that sum of money so he can go play in the Premier League is ridiculous; and doesn’t sound like player power to me.
What do you think about footballers ‘player power’?