Thursday, January 27, 2022

Berbatov and the others mean that the transfer system needs to be reviewed

Now that the transfer window has closed, there are many people feeling that such an unseemly mess cannot be allowed to happen again. There are also many others who have enjoyed the drama of it all and look forward to the next one.

It does appear that something has got to be done to make the system less open to abuse. Surely the signing of a contract for a certain length of time should mean something? That is the one thing that appears to be farcical in the current climate.

The other element of the process that should come under scrutiny is the ‘tapping up’ that goes on. The rules say that a club cannot approach a player unless their existing club have given them permission to do so. Of course, in the real world that cannot happen. With player’s agents taking a prominent role it is unrealistic to suggest that clubs will not speak to players, or their representatives, before they approach the clubs.

Of course, if a manager goes on television and says that they are a big admirer of a certain player and would love to have them at their club, that doesn’t amount to tapping up does it? The fact is however that the player is likely to become unsettled and may want to explore the possibilities.

Tottenham chairman Daniel Levy has been very outspoken in his criticism of the way clubs conduct their business and has urged the Premier League to review the transfer system. He is very upset about the manner of the departure of strikers Dimitar Berbatov and Robbie Keane to Manchester United and Liverpool respectively.

Levy said on his club website that the nature of the Berbatov transfer was, “further evidence of the need for the Premier League to review the system”.

He went on to say, “This summer we found ourselves having to deal with the unexpected challenge of both our leading goalscorers making it clear they wished to leave the club. I have already stated my opinion on the manner in which our players were approached and the nature of the negotiations surrounding Robbie Keane and Dimitar Berbatov. I have also previously said that we had no need to sell players on long contracts – this no longer remains practical. The decisions we took to allow the transfers of Berbatov and Keane were made after close discussions with the coaching staff.”

Levy gave his backing to manager Juande Ramos who agreed to the sale of both Keane and Berbatov. “Juande was clear, and I believe correct, in not wishing to embrace any player within the dressing room that had no desire to play for the badge of this club and for his team-mates. Under these circumstances we had no option but to sell these players.”

The fact is that once a player knows that a ‘bigger’ or more wealthy club are interested in signing them it is only natural that they will give the matter some thought. If they decide they want to go, as Levy says, there is little you can do about it. In Berbatov’s case, he had been left out of the Tottenham team for recent games because manager Juande Ramos felt the striker was too distracted by United’s interest in him.

Despite Tottenham winning silverware last season, being in this season’s Uefa Cup and looking to move up into the top four under Ramos, they lost their strikeforce to two clubs already in that top four. Robbie Keane went to Liverpool in July and of course, Berbatov joined United on Monday.

In the Berbatov deal, United striker Fraizer Campbell moved to Tottenham on a season-long loan deal and Levy has decided not to pursue their official complaint to the Premier League regarding United’s attempts to lure Berbatov away from White Hart Lane.

It is maybe a shame that Levy has withdrawn his official complaint which would have meant the Premier League would have had to look into things, but for some reason decided to pursue his unofficial complaint via his club website, asking the Premier League to look into it. Strange one that.

What can be done to prevent the next transfer window spiralling out of control like this one threatened to do?

Maybe the answer is something like making a rule that a player cannot leave a club unless he has less that two years left to run on his current contract. If players knew of interest from other clubs but they had just signed a four year deal, then they would know that they were committed to their current club.

I know it can’t be that simple, but there must be something that would make a signed contract worth at least the paper it was written on. At present, there is little point in having contracts at all. Neither the clubs nor the players pay any respect to the contracts unless it suits them to do so.


Graham Fisher



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Joop the Dutch
Joop the Dutch
13 years ago

We probably need to introduce a 4 months’ notice agreement. This way the employee has time to find a suitable replacement. Like it happens in the normal world……..

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