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The Reality Of Contracts At Newcastle United

8 years ago
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I’m dreadfully sorry for my past sins but I used to be a commercial lawyer.

At a time when articles are being written about six-year contracts for young players, and about the eight- year contract enjoyed by our manager, I thought it might be useful if I offered ten thoughts, as follows:

1) A cut-off period in a contract will say that the contract’s duration will end at the expiration of a stated period after the contract is terminated – so if a contract is paid up on termination it will be a payment of salary for that stated period. It’s a bit like a notice period in an ordinary contract of employment. But it’s not notice – in reality it is compensation for the premature termination of the contract.

2) It is widely rumoured that Pardew has a cut-off clause in his contract. If this is so, he won’t be paid the balance of eight years. Anyone remember Alan Smith, who was signed by one of Ashley’s managers? It would be no surprise if every single contract Ashley has signed since then has had a cut-off clause.

3) Freddie Fletcher had Sir Bobby on a one-year rolling contract.

Every day that Sir Bobby went in to work he had a year left to go.

If Pardew’s contract has a one-year cut-off period then, compensation-wise, he is in exactly the same position as Sir Bobby, except it is likely that Pardew is paid rather less than any manager engaged by Freddie.

4) So why didn’t Ashley just put Pardew on a one-year rolling contract? It’s so that Ashley can say to the Football Association, when the time inevitably comes to make Pardew the England manager, that the club wants years and years of compo before they will let the Silver Fox go. Or indeed he might say that to the owner of Crystal Palace, to take the name of one club at random.

5) Of course there would be a negotiation but a longer contract strengthens Ashley’s hand. If Liverpool want to sign Dummett, Ashley could let it be known that the amount of compo might come down substantially if Liverpool were to allow, ooh, I dunno, Steven Gerrard to come in the other direction.

6) In reality what is likely to happen is that Ashley will at some time tire of Pardew’s failures. Ashley cannot summarily sack Pardew without compo unless there is a breach of contract that merits it.

Pardew is sailing close to the wind if he is indeed slyly approaching Palace through intermediaries, as reported. Basically, and there’s a bit more to it than this, he can’t expect to be compensated if he is given what he wants.

7) A long contract with a limit on compo can sometimes have a downside for Ashley. The Nile Ranger situation is unusual – a dud is given a long contract. Nobody wanted to sign Ranger and he could just sit around waiting for his contract to wind down. It is surprising he wasn’t forced out of the club by being asked to put the cones out and train with the juniors and being fined more and more harshly for being late, but I think the reason is that Pardew still thought Ranger might make it with Newcastle.

8) Ashley tends to give long contracts to people he is confident will make it and do well. Dummett is a case in point. And there was plenty of evidence that Pardew would do brilliantly for Newcastle after we finished fifth. Graham Carr has an eight-year contract too, yet Ashley needed to plead with him not to resign after the appointment of Kinnear.

9) The mention of Kinnear brings me to Xisco, another dud on a never-ending contract, loaned to Spanish clubs more and more frequently as the contract unspooled. Dennis Wise seems to have been the only person who thought Xisco was any good. Ashley brought Wise and Tony Jimenez in to second-guess Keegan on transfers. He wanted to control costs, and wanted to take the advice of more than one person on incoming transfers, even though Keegan was an excellent judge of a player. Wise and Jimenez failed but Ashley finds it almost impossible to believe he is wrong on strategy.

Hence the appointment of Carr and Kinnear.

10) No detail of Kinnear’s contract has found its way into the public domain. But I bet the terms of Kinnear’s possible employment as stop-gap manager are set out perfectly clearly. Nor do I think Kinnear will be our next permanent manager. Ashley might by now be realising he’s going to have to appoint a manager at some time who can really make a difference. A parochial mate of Ashley’s will not get a response from our dressing room of French stars.

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