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Monday, 11 July 2011

Tottenham's gentlemans' agreement with Luka Modric and how to resolve it

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That anyone believes that there are gentlemen in football was risible 50 years ago when the retain-and-transfer and maximum wage systems were falling apart.  For anyone to believe that such nonsense as verbal agreements will stand in today's greed obsessed game is frankly astonishing.  So even if Luka Modric has a gentlemans agreement to enable him to move to a 'bigger club' - if it isn't written down then what is he honestly expecting to achieve by saying it exists?

Modric's claims, via his agent, are clearly intended to push a transfer through - even if he recently signed a five year contract it appears that he does not wish to honour it:


"I must say that I am genuinely disappointed about what Levy said to me. He didn't care about what

I was telling him. It all only convinced me further that I was right to consider moving on to another club.

"I reminded the chairman of our gentlemen's agreement when we were in Dubrovnik last summer and I agreed a contract extension with Tottenham. Then I had an open chat with Levy - that if a bigger club came in with a concrete offer, we would consider it and agree the best solution for all concerned.

"The chairman said, 'OK, we'll sit and talk [about any offers]'. Now Levy doesn't want to talk to me and said there is no possibility that I can leave Spurs."

But how can such a situation be resolved?

For this summer the resolution would seem to consist of the usual Spurs summer tactic of stringing negotiations out until 31 August in the hope that an auction develops amongst the richest clubs.  Obviously this tends to screw up the first few weeks of the season for Tottenham, but that costs less than letting a player go without a struggle.  Doesn't it?

In the longer term the simplest solution for me would be to make pre-contract transfer fees a compulsory element of all new contracts, so that a player knows the conditions that would make him available for transfer (be it a monetary value or some kind of competition based trigger) - and the club gets a value that they deem as fair.

If Luka Modric had agreed with Spurs that if Tottenham failed to qualify for the Champions' League then he was available to clubs who had qualified for the tournament as long as they paid £xm - then a toxic club vs player dispute wouldn't have started this summer.  And this seems to happen most summers at Tottenham.  Obviously it would mean that Spurs couldn't keep a player who wanted to leave - but keeping malcontents is hardly a recipe for success however good they are.

If Man United can live without Ronaldo, Liverpool can sell Torres and so on why won't Spurs cope with Modric?

The transfer value built into the contract is already in place for many clubs on the continent and some clubs in England and there will be some more of the €1bn Spanish valuations - if the player is not really for sale at any price - if it becomes commonplace.  And it does appear to err on the side of the buying club if a player comes off the back of a great season - which is unfortunate in this instance.  

But it may also allow the likes of Nico Kranjcar to move on when he's out of favour.  Kranjcar was bought for two or three million a couple of years ago.  Although he is Gareth Bale's stand-in currently, Tottenham valuation of him has inflated to £12m.  A valuation that is understandably not attractive to potential buyers.  If Kranjcar is not going to be a regular, is forcing him to stay a good thing?

To allow for form to create fluctuations in pre-contract valuation why not allow the transfer valuation to be flexible based on key indicators like goals scored, games played and trophies won - key players get more expensive and fringe players get cheaper.

The days of gentlemens agreements and loyalty are over.  If everything boils down to money these days - then put a price on everything and stop these ugly spats at source.

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Antony Melvin



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