Shining a light on the murky world of the 10 percenters
The final whistle has been blown, the nets put away and the bootroom cleared.
The usually busy ground is pretty much empty now except for a skeleton staff – the full-timers who are going to run the club during the off-season.
This is the scene at every professional club up and down the country. Well, obviously not the Premier League teams, or the four teams in each division involved in the play-offs. But for 60 of the 92 clubs the season has come to an end.
Another seasons ends at Underhill
The football may have finished but the next 12 weeks could well dictate the following 40. This is when the deals are done, and hopefully the busiest time of the year for me.
I will be renegotiating contracts and also conducting traditional transfers. I also represent 10 players who are out of contract at the end of season, commonly known as 'Bosmans'. This represents around 25 percent of all my football clients.
A Bosman is not a guaranteed road to riches and the majority of players crave the security of a long-term deal.
Indeed transfer fees, especially in the lower leagues, could well soon be a thing of the past. Being available for free does not mean you have just found the lucky golden ticket in your post-match Willy Wonka chocolate bar.
However, not everybody understands this. It can become my job to not only find a player a club and negotiate his contract, but also to make him understand when it is time to sign it.
This is particularly the case when players drop out of the top division and have a false belief of what the earnings are in the lower leagues.
Some players may wish to play the waiting game in the hope that a big offer will come up nearer the season. They will be praying that clubs have missed out on the players at the top of their list and desperate to fill gaps and offer bigger deals.
This is a very risky strategy to take. Regardless of how far the manager has to go down his list of options, the budget normally remains the same, and is only changed if the chairman is convinced to do so.
Which is about as easy as persuading players that their 'lucky' hat doesn’t actually set a good tone for the directors’ box.
There will again be a number of high profile Bosmans this summer. One that immediately springs to mind is Michael Owen whose contract, a reputed £120,000 per week, comes to an end.
While many pundits have talked up an Owen move for the past two years, this was never going to happen. No one else has been prepared to pay those sorts of wages, though if they had I believe they could have got him out on a 'free' at any time.
If Michael thinks his Bosman could be a big payday for him, he might well be disappointed. Things have changed and so has he.
Owen: In for a surprise?
Hopefully he decides to be sensible and prolong his career in the Premier League. But if money does really rule his world, then don’t be surprised if we see him being lined up as the next marquee player in some other emerging league such as the MLS or even in the Far East.
Not quite such big-name Bosmans for me this summer, but I’ll be trying to sort out the futures of Darren Purse (Cardiff), Frazer Richardson (Leeds) and Ben Davies (Shrewsbury), among others, to make sure that their availability on free transfers works as best as it possibly can for them.
Read Alex Black's blogs here on FourFourTwo.com. Find out more about his clients at Football First Agency.
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