Managing To Make Money

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Friday February 3, 2012 at 4:50pm
It is not for us –for all sorts of reasons – to speculate as to the guilt or otherwise of Messrs Mandaric and Redknapp.

But there is one thing we can speak about, which has become common knowledge as part of the evidence is the issue of managers receiving part of the fees for selling players to other clubs.

Redknapp, it emerged, received in the region of £200,000 for selling Peter Crouch to Aston Villa in 2002, and these payments are common place.

They were written into his contract, so just be clear, I am not suggesting in any way that anyone to do with the transfer acted improperly and the payments were perfectly legal and above board – but were they right?

Is it not a conflict of interests, or more accurately, can a conflict of interests not be suggested? For example, to take Peter Crouch since he is the named player in the deals, if Crouch was scoring goals and Portsmouth were going for Promotion and a club comes in with a big bid, does the manager – in this case Redknapp - keep him in order to further those promotion prospects, or does he recommend the player be sold for personal gain?

As James Lawton put it in The Independent last week: “The practice in general opens up the issue.”

“At what point,” argues Lawton. “Might a manager, conscious of the uncertainties of a results-oriented business where pressure on the jobs of even the most distinguished operators has never been so great, be tempted to put his own interests before those of his club, and by extension, the fans who supply its lifeblood?”

And isn’t that the crux of the thing? Is it right that this is allowed to happen?

Redknapp isn’t the only manager to benefit in this way, of course. It appears that Dario Gradi’s fabled Crew Alex production line also produced plenty of cash for him as he personally benefitted from the transfers of the likes of David Platt, Robbie Savage and Dean Ashton. Gradi’s presence on the board at the Alexandra Stadium on Gresty Road further exacerbates the situation.

Although the Italian is no longer the Manager of the now League Two side he still retains his right to a percentage of player transfers out of the club – and with the likes of Nick Powell and Max Clayton currently starring for the England U-19 side he may well be getting to top up his ISA again soon.

There are, I am sure many within football who cannot see what the fuss regarding these payments is about. In his aforementioned piece in The Independent last week, Lawton quotes “an experienced football administrator” as saying: “The system can be justified... a manager, who has no kind of job security, does a good job, makes the club a huge profit on an individual player, so why shouldn't he have his share? Like the bankers do when they improve the figures.”

Although even here this person agrees that there is a potential for wrong-doing to at least appear to be done. "The potential problem lies in the possibility of some managers and players maybe being tempted to collude over their short-term interests rather than the long-term ones of the club.” Which is an interesting way of putting it.

The issue at hand here is not whether these payments are legal and above board – they clearly are – the issue at hand is rather they are right.

And if that is hard to quantify, then what might be harder to do is to decide whether to allow the practice to continue. At this point, now these payments are in the public domain, do the authorities need to have a look at what is going on here and perhaps act accordingly, before this rather murky aspect of football business really get too far out of hand?


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