Rescinded Red

Oh the media monkeys and their junket junkies will invite you to their plastic pantomime. Throw their invites away.

When Will Footballers Discover Free Agency?

cristiano-ronaldo-portugalBaseball pitcher CC Sabathia recently signed an eight-year $161 million contract with the New York Yankees.  His salary, approximately £15m per year, would make him the highest paid footballer in the world.  International football bandies about similar outrageous sums, in the form of transfer fees that go to the club not the players.  This begs the question, why have footballers not discovered free agency?

Cristiano Ronaldo tried to leave Manchester United for Real Madrid over the summer, just a year after signing a £120,000 per week contract with Manchester United.  The club want him to stay this season and likely next season, but eventually they will sell him to Madrid or elsewhere for a big payday, possibly £70-£100m.  To maintain control over Ronaldo, United will likely placate him with an extended contract and include a substantial raise.

However, if you were Ronaldo, why would you sign the extension?  His current contract with United expires in 2012, when he will be 27-years-old, with at least four years of top-level play left in him.  Why wouldn’t he bide his time until free agency at that point.

There’s a certain cache to being the subject of a record transfer deal, but Ronaldo won’t see that money, it hamstrings the club with whom he’s negotiating and he only gets to negotiate with that one club.  He derives no benefit from the large transfer deal.  Ronaldo may get a fat contract with Real Madrid, but he’s hardly realizing his potential.

If he became a free agent at the end of his contract, he arrives at an outrageous discount.  Teams can divert the transfer money into Ronaldo’s salary.  He can also negotiate with as many teams as he likes and auction himself to the highest bidder.  Coming for free, Ronaldo could start the bidding at £300,000 per week, involving all the big clubs in England, Spain and Italy.

Moreover, this possibility increases his leverage.  If United know that Ronaldo won’t resign, they will try to deal him before he leaves, to recover some value.  To agree to a deal with Real Madrid, Madrid would be forced to pre-empt him becoming a free agent, and pay him more. Ronaldo, rather than the clubs, would hold the transfer conch.

Who will be the first player who figures that out?  Will the players’ totally above-board agents let them?


Filed under: Football, Soccer, Transfer Rumor, , ,

2 Responses

  1. Jon says:

    I understand what you’re saying, but the clubs are usually smart enough to realize they need to sell before “free agency” can happen. The perfect example is Liverpool selling Michael Owen to Madrid on the cheap before his contract expired. In 2 years time, should Ronaldo make it clear that he won’t sign a new contract, United will sell him to Madrid, not for the world record fee they would get this moment, but for at least 30 million pounds. Fergie is not stupid.

    The one thing that I could see happening is the so called Webster Rule. Basically Ronaldo could buy out his contract after 3 years and be off to Madrid on the cheap, where Madrid would be more than willing to pay him whatever he wants.

  2. tyduffy says:

    I know that the clubs aren’t stupid. That’s why they are in control. What I am saying is that Ronaldo could just take control, by not signing anything. For all his faults, Ronaldo’s a little classier than using the Webster Rule to worm his way out of United.

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