Posts Tagged ‘Webster Clause

10
May
08

2% of all ships have rats

As Alex (one of my loyal readers) scooped yesterday, during the Friday press conference the boss gave a strongly worded defense of his team and team concept.

Clearly tired of all the press speculation the Boss lashed out:

Look, there is one player who is free, he has already left. For me, 98 per cent of the squad will be here next season. And the two per cent have already gone. The rest are all under contract. If anybody wants to buy a player he has to call me. I can give you my number if you want because maybe some ignore that I have a phone. What is unbelievable is I’m sitting here like we have killed all the players. Yet when I go to my office I have 220 calls from players who want to come in.

With that statement we have learned today that 1) Arsene Wenger does have a phone 2) there are 220 players who want a job at Arsenal 3) the squad has 50 players and 2% have left (one guy, Flamini) and 4) Inter either are unable to use a phone (not surprising) or they have forgotten that the country code for England is 44 (maybe they were dialing 33?)

Then he rounded on Flamini and Milan, questioning the character of both.

I know the rules in this job, the guy [Flamster] is free, he can go to somebody who pays him more, but he said he wanted to stay. If you say ‘no I want to go somewhere’ that is ok. But you cannot say ‘I want to stay but I go.’ This club here [Arsenal] has a history of being built by people of values. I’m not sure that in the history of Milan you’ll find the same values, even if you dig well.

Owch. I don’t really blame Milan here. Flamini was a free agent, Milan offered him a bigger contract, and he choose to take it. Flamini is the one here who told the boss one thing and did something different. Which is really, personally, sad. I really liked the guy and thought he showed tremendous character over the last few years; stepping up and doing anything that was asked of him. So, I have to admit that I’m kind of surprised that he did the dirty on the boss like that. Why not just be a man and say “I’m leaving?” I don’t know, it’s really a sad way to leave.

The boss is more forgiving than I am saying;

Still, for me it’s not a problem, I wish him well and say thanks for the services. Let’s go on and focus on what’s important for this Club and the players who want to stay here. There is no bitterness, nothing. He was in a situation where he could make a decision, and he did. Goodbye and good luck. It’s as simple as that. What is important is that a player, when he plays, gives 100 per cent. And when he played for us he gave 100 per cent.

I’m not going to burn my Flamini jersey or cry into a beer over it, but I can’t quite forgive him yet; it was a bit of a cowardly way to leave. I guess I can just try to remember that he was a fully committed player and will be difficult to replace for the qualities that he showed on the pitch. Let’s just hope we get someone in there with better qualities off the pitch.

Speaking of players who are acting poorly off the pitch, the boss has also taken a huge swipe at Hleb and even gone so far as to threaten legal action should the player try to “pull a Webster.”

It is not as simple as it looks, this Webster clause, you can’t just come in next day and buy out, there is no rule that says that. And you should not forget what clubs can do. You have to first go to a FIFA tribunal and if you don’t agree with FIFA, you have to go to ACAS [I’m linking to ACAS because I don’t think my American readers will know what it is – TB] It takes a lot of months. You can be banned for the whole period if it’s not done in a proper way.

Owch. I think Wenger is trying to express a level of frustration with the way this whole deal is going down — and rightly so. Hleb is under contract. It is unfathomable that a person who has contracted his services for a specific period of time would go to a secret meeting with a competitor to talk about switching allegiances THE DAY BEFORE A PIVOTAL COMPETITION.

If I had a strong dislike of Hleb before I’ll be extra pissed if he tries to pull a Webster. It’s not that I want him to stay, I don’t. It’s just that I think the team deserve to get a fair transfer fee from him. Arsenal and Arsene had faith in him when the wolves were calling for him to be dropped. Arsene stuck with him and developed him and really gave the man a platform on which he could showcase his talents and thus command respect and interest from other teams. Arsenal deserve a big payday if Hleb leaves and I fully support the team pursuing that payday through the legal system.

Don’t get me wrong, Hleb won’t be with Arsenal next season. I don’t get the sense that Wenger has much respect for the man after what he pulled in Milan and his respect will drop to zero if he tries to screw the team out of a fair transfer fee. And that’s exactly what the Webster clause will do; screw the team out of money. Money that could be used to buy players. So, I think what Arsene is trying to do is get fair market value for Hleb, and, again, I fully support the team in this. Someone needs to challenge this Webster clause, Arsenal might as well do it; they break new ground everywhere else, why not in contract talks?

In other team news, Rosicky is ruled out for Euro 2008. Which sucks, but maybe the player will come back bigger and stronger. Like maybe they can tighten that ligament and he can start shooting shots from 50 yards out? He’ll be a secret weapon!

Anyway, that’s your lot for today. I’ve been out of the loop for the last few days because baby and mommy are in the hospital still and I didn’t have my laptop with me. Now I do and I’ll be back now stronger than ever, like Rosicky.

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24
Apr
08

Money money money money (money)

This transfer season is already set to give me a huge headache but I think I’ve found a coping mechanism. I’m calling it the Rick Pitino coping mechanism.  When Rick was coach of the Celtics, the fans were all over him to buy a bunch of players so they could get back to winning ways.  One day, at a press conference, he broke down and in an attempt to protect his players made his famous “Larry Bird is not walking through that door” proclamation.

Well, to paraphrase Rick: “Thierry Henry is not walking through that door fans, Patrick Vieira and Robert Pires are not walking through that door. And if you expect them to walk through that door? They’re going to be gray and old.”   After this morning’s spate of telling newspaper articles I feel very strongly that Arsenal are preparing the supporters for an off season with no big signings. So, for my money you can add to that above list Quaresma, Ben Arfa, and anyone else that’s linked to the club.

First, there’s the “I want to keep the club together” thing that Arsene keeps saying as if it’s a mantra to ward off evil spirits. Of course ‘footballistically’ you want to keep a solid team together. Any professional sports team that I have ever followed that broke off even one key player immediately went into what we Americans refer to as “the holding pattern.”

The Seattle SuperSonics spring to mind. One year they are good enough to make it to the NBA finals and take the Chicago Bulls to 6 games and the next year they sign Jim MacIlvaine to a big contract, which causes turmoil on the team, Shawn Kemp leaves, and the team is left with no one but Gary Payton and a few role players. Sure, they make the playoffs, but they never go very far and can never manage to piece together a winning team. That’s the holding pattern: your team is stuck in 4th place until one day, the star gets sick and tired of being on a 4th place team and leaves —  then you’re left with a team rebuilding from scratch. So, from that perspective you definitely want to keep the team together.

But from a money perspective too, you can’t always be transferring players in and out, and no more so than this season. See, if Hleb and Flamini leave, the transfer fee will be only a portion of what they are worth due to the “Webster Clause.” I’ve tried to explain this “Webster Clause/Article 17” thing before and let me try again: basically, Arsenal would get a transfer fee equal to each player’s salary (for the remainder of their contract) plus a prorated amount based on their original transfer fee, unless the transfer fee has amortized to zero. There are some other rules, such as the club’s ability to dispute the amount that the player is worth, but what I said above is pretty much the long and short of it. That means that Hleb could leave for as little as £8m and Flamini could leave for almost nothing. On the open market Hleb and Flamini would be worth at least £20m. So to replace them is (in the simplest terms) going to cost Arsenal at least £12m out of pocket. And that’s a serious problem if Arsenal’s transfer kitty is as small as some people are reporting.

So, yes, Wenger wants to keep this team together because of team chemistry or adapting to English football or fitting into Arsenal’s system but he also cannot afford (literally) to lose players on what is essentially a free transfer. Every one of those players he loses represent players he must buy just to keep the squad at its current strength, never mind improving the team.

Second, I’m starting to see a bunch of “There’s not as much money as people think” articles. The most dubious of these articles claims that the Arsenal Supporters Trust has discovered that Wenger will have as little as £25m this summer to sign players. I can find no such news release on the AST web site so I report this “news” with reservations. But I am passing it on because there are quotes from the boss that indicate that the piggy bank doesn’t have as much money in it as we all were told. Remember the £70m number? Arsene poo poo’s that number

There is money there [for transfers], but not as much as I read in the newspapers, because that is not true… It is not as simple as it looks when you read there is so much money available to buy players – that transfer budget also includes the improvement of the wages.

There you have it, two definitive statements from Arsene Wenger himself that there isn’t some £70m war chest lying around that he can crack open to buy Lionel Messi or whomever fans think Arsenal ought to buy. How much money is there? I don’t know. But I do know a “leak” when I see one and this is a leak to the fans that they need to be less optimistic about signing some really big names this summer.

In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised if Arsenal only have the money to buy replacements for Hleb and Flamini and neither should you.  Lionel Messi is not walking through that door, folks.

22
Apr
08

Darling, you look Fabregas

“He’s only 20.” Just keep telling yourself that. “He’s only 20 years old.” Yeah, 20 years old and already a veteran of over 200 matches. He’s been to the Champions League final, Carling Cup final, and this year he pushed Arsenal to within a few games of the Premiership title and another Champions League final. He’s only 20, but he has the vision, ability, and (most importantly) a patience that belies his 20 years.

I often hear the criticism that Cesc is not a goal scorer. Well, he wasn’t a goal scorer before this year. But who will ever forget his winner at the San Siro? Or how about his run of 6 at the start of the season which included a goal against Spuds, at White Heart Lane? No, he’s not a goal scorer, but so far, he’s scored 13 goals in this campaign: more than triple his output of the previous season. He’s not a natural goal scorer but what gives me hope is that “he’s only 20” and he’s still working on it. And he’s getting better, faster than any player I have ever seen.  For example, when Christiano Ronaldo was 20, he scored a mere 7 goals and only racked up 6 assists.

See?  Now say it again — “Holy crap, he’s only 20!”

As you would expect, in the assist department Cesc has only gotten better, already netting 22.  That’s only 5 more than last year but Arsenal still have Derby left to play, so that number could grow quite substantially.

To show you how far Cesc’s season has come, Theo’s even pointed to Cesc as the person who might next captain Arsenal. You might think that’s impossible, but then again, on May 4th the kid will be 21and we’ll all be saying “Holy crap, he’s only 21!”

News: The Anfield turmoil has finally struck Arsenal: Chairman Peter Hill-Wood was snubbed by Liverpool’s management/owners/lunatics. Take solace Peter that you’re chairman of a club that’s not rife with hatred of foreigners — especially Americans.

Meanwhile, Wenger speaks out about the “Webster Clause” which is a ruling that anyone under the age of 28 isn’t really in a contract even if they signed the contract as long as they stay with the club for 3 years of their contract. Confused? Me too but it looks like basically if you’re under 28 and you sign a 5 year deal, you really only have to honor the first 3 years of that deal.  After the third year you can “opt out” of your contract by paying the club the amount that your salary would have been over the next two years.  Like a sort of “reduced calorie transfer fee.”

This is important because Hleb is 26 and he signed a 5 year contract 3 years ago. Jesus, Wenger must be sweating bullets. Half the team could leave under the Webster Clause. If that happens we can all sing our new relegation theme song:

He’ll raid you of your youth
their contracts don’t mean shiat
Hleb went to AC Milan
and the Itais didn’t remit
HEY! Webster Clause is coming to town!

Rumor has it Fabianski might play in the last two away games v. Derby and Sunderland. Ok, he’ll probably do just fine against lower division teams.

Anyway, I have stuff to do. Can’t lounge around here talking football all day (unfortunately). Heh, I think I’ll take the Ducati to work today; there’s only a 60% chance of rain, which is pretty good for this time of year.

ashita!




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