By Tony Attwood
So, Vardy is another Higuain, the sort of transfer that everyone is so sure is on, that he actually signed a week ago, that it was kept secret, that he had a medical last weekend, but didn’t, that he was going to tell the club his decision on monday but didn’t. Either this is all fantasy, or Vardy is a very rude young man, or else it was a gigantic set up by the media so that it could run the headline…
Of course unravelling these matters is always something of an problematic issue because we don’t have all the facts. But what we can do is consider what reasonable people would do in such circumstances, and then see whether that line has been followed.
Let’s start with Leicester. Apparently there is a clause in the Vardy contract that says that Fleetwood get a percentage of the sell on fee. 25% has been quoted. And we are told that Vardy’s contract has a clause in it that says that any offers over £20m, (or maybe £22m) mean he has to be given a chance to listen to and possibly accept the new offer.
It is also widely quoted that his salary under the new contract is £45,000 a week. £2.34m a year.
Now those figures on their own are not particularly interesting but put together they are. And yes, I know I’ve said “quoted” etc, so these are just what people are saying – but my suspicion is that they are not that far from the truth.
Arsenal therefore could make an offer of £20m for the player. Only £15m of that would reach Leicester – a small amount of money for a player who did so well last season, even though he is 29 and probably only has a couple of years left at the highest level (he is not, after all, Bergkamp).
So the outcome could be that Vardy would go, and take the higher salary and a chance for experiencing a bigger club. But Leicester could have avoided all this by doing any of several things…
a) Going to Fleetwood and saying, look because of this sell on clause fee, we are going to put a very high buy out cost in his contract, which will probably stop a sale. So you will get nothing… unless you agree to re-write the deal. So instead of a flat rate 25% to you, the percentage will go down as the money goes up. You’ll still get more money, but not the 25% all the way through. If you don’t agree, we won’t sell him, and you won’t get anything.
b) Putting his buy out fee much higher. Why £20m? Why not £30m? That wouldn’t cost them anything.
c) Putting up his salary. If they had offered him £100,000 a week to carry on with them, that would have cost them £2.86m a year, which within the context of the transfer fee is not much especially if it is dependent on the number of games played.
Of course all three are subject to negotiation with the player’s agent, and the player might object to a higher buy out fee – but then the higher salary could have been dangled as a compensation. Fleetwood too might well have jumped at the notion of a £30m buy out clause and accepted a reduction in their percentage if the retail value of Vardy went up over £20m.
These are back of an envelope calculations – and yes they all need negotiation, but because one can come up with them within the amount of time it takes to type this, it suggests that by and large anyone in the business ought to be able to think these things through and get them arranged. It doesn’t really say very much for Leicester that it appears (and I stress “appears” – we can only work from the generally accepted numbers) to have screwed up their negotiations with Vardy big time.
Of course giving him more could have had a knock on effect with other players – but did Leicester really think they would keep a top goalscorer – even an elderly top scorer in football terms – on £40,000 a week and a sell-on clause of £20m? It seems unlikely that one club or another wouldn’t come for him. Remember Man U going to RVP with his terrible injury record, but one brilliant season. They took the risk and gave him a four year contract knowing that really they were only after him for one year.
But there is further damage along the line. Other players seeing the fuss will have checked what their buy out clause is, and noted the instant offer of double the salary. The queue of agents at the club’s chief negotiator’s door (if they have a chief negotiator that is, and with this muddle, I wonder if they do) probably stretches back to the Tigers ground.
And what of Arsenal?
Arsenal transfer plans face disruption as striker delays decision until after Euro 2016.
That was a typical headline, but I somehow doubt it. More likely the muddle has caused a lot of problems for Leicester. If Vardy can multiple his salary 2.5 times over night, then why not the next player and the next. A club that screws up one set of simple contract terms will probably have made a mess of the rest of them, so I suspect they are going to be rushing around like headless chickens trying to rework all the contracts now that they have woken up.
But as for Arsenal, no club that is seeking to develop its squad, and which has the money, goes into the summer transfers with just one player in mind for a position. Judging by Mr Wenger’s comments to the effect that “of course he is worth it” the club saw the muddle Leicester had made and jumped in with an offer. Get the player and that’s a bonus, as £20m for a top scorer is cheap, fail to get him, and Leicester has been thrown into turmoil – with not only Vardy unable to make up his mind but also the agents of other players now all pressing for renegotiation.
I wouldn’t suggest that Mr Wenger is Machiavellian in his make up but everyone in football knows this is what goes on all the time – disrupting players to cause problems for a rival club – and it would be extraordinary if Arsenal was not part of the general approach of the industry. After all, Arsenal are constantly under assault from without, and I don’t think I’ve heard of a screw up in contractual terms at Arsenal of the type there almost certainly is at Leicester.
Indeed just in the last few days we have “reports” that both Liverpool and Barcelona are going behind Arsenal’s back and seeking to talk directly to Bellerin. It’s illegal of course but the rules have been broken so many times, it seems that direct contact is becoming more the norm than obeying the rules.
This doesn’t mean that Liverpool and Barcelona don’t have reasons to make noises about going for Bellerin. He is an astonishingly brilliant player, having made his debut after injuries to Debuchy, Chambers and Monreal, on 16 September 2014 in a 2–0 defeat away to Borussia Dortmund. And each has a good reason to talk up such a transfer. Liverpool because their transfer record in recent years has been awful, and Barcelona because they seem bedevilled by court cases – getting banned from transfers for a year, now having their star player embroiled in a tax fraud case.
But back to Vardy. The whole case has been odd – starting with the suggestion that he had already had a medical and signed, then being told he was having a medical the week later, then being told he has not had a medical at all, then being told that he would decide on Monday morning, and now it is after the Euros…
If he does want to come to Arsenal then after the Euros is a good time for Arsenal, because player after player will get injured this summer, and if Vardy suffers an injury that keeps him out of football for a while, that will change his value. Better to know when signing him.
But if it is true that he agreed with Arsenal to let them know for sure on Monday morning, and then didn’t, that changes things. If someone won’t keep their word and behave in a decent manner at the very start of arrangements, how do you expect them to behave later on?
Certainly as an employer I have on a few occasions offered a job to a person who then comes back and tries to renegotiate either the starting date or the salary or some other part of their terms and conditions. My personal answer has always been to withdraw the offer of the job at once on the grounds that my company offers a job at a salary and on certain terms. The individual can ask questions or seek to negotiate before or during the interviews, but to go through the whole process, accept the job and then negotiate has always seemed to suggest this is exactly the sort of person I don’t want to employ.
Even if the individual then drops their new demands I still say no – because I don’t want to employ someone who tries that trick. (And just in case you are wondering, it is perfectly legal to withdraw an offer of a contract under UK law for any reason other than prohibited reasons such as race, religion, sex…)
If it were me I’d drop Vardy like a ton of bricks and move on to other players content in the knowledge that I’d given Leicester a bit of a hard time, and that the Great Arsenal Transfer Index currently has listed 57 players that we are apparently signing, including several forwards, so there’s no shortage.
But of course it isn’t up to me, and if Vardy does become an Arsenal player then of course I’ll support him, as I always support the team members.
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From the anniversary files
8 June 1925: The Football League voted to change the offside rule to two men behind the ball rather than three, leading to Chapman’s variant “WM” formation in his first year at Arsenal. The tactic helped Arsenal come second in 1925/6
The current series appearing on the Arsenal History Society site is Arsenal in the 1930s. We’ve just published episode 10 – March 1931: hope, defeat, hope