Shining a light on the murky world of the 10 percenters
A lot of phrases are overused in football.
Managers saying “I couldn’t actually see the penalty incident from where I was sitting,” for example, or players continually saying they’ll “take each game as it comes.”
But one of the most overused, inaccurate phrases in the game is when fans say: “The problem with players today is they’ve got no loyalty.”
I’m probably biased because I’m usually the one being blamed for it, but let’s go back to the beginning – not of time but the early days of professional football.
Some people would have you believe that players back then would turn out for their local side for just enough money to keep them in Woodbines and were happy in the knowledge that the local barber would cut their hair for free.
Unfortunately for the whimsical, this has never been the case.
"Once a Blue, always a Blue"
As soon as the game started having any level of organisation, players have always looked for the best deals possible and clubs have continually tried to pinch the best players.
Many of the first professional footballers were the best Scottish players being persuaded to move to England by the lure of good jobs if they played for a new works team.
And though it may be shocking to hear, clubs these days are very liberal with the word “loyalty.”
When a club wants to retain the services of the player, they expect great loyalty from him. Yet when they want to recruit a player from elsewhere, he should be putting football first and not staying where he is through a misguided sense of loyalty.
Many playing contracts actually have loyalty bonuses in them, thus encouraging a player to stay and collect it. A number of Premier League clubs have now stopped paying the traditional signing-on fee and have replaced it with a loyalty bonus.
Could the reason for this be that if a club sells a player while he is under contract, FA regulations state that he is entitled to any signing-on fees due but not to any loyalty bonuses? Just a thought…
Bizarrely I’ve even had instances where clubs have actually tried to sell a player in order to avoid paying him a large loyalty bonus.
Last year I was involved in one of the highest profile non-transfers ever: Gareth Barry’s on-off transfer to Liverpool.
"You must never leave. NEVER"
A number of fans pilloried Gareth for wanting to leave and accused him of having a lack of loyalty (they weren’t very happy with me for my part in it either!).
But Gareth had been at Aston Villa for over 10 years. He had rejected numerous opportunities to leave and spurned chances to earn far more money away from Villa Park.
How can that be disloyal?
And how does that view fit with the fact that Aston Villa pinched him from Brighton in the first place as a 16-year-old? I can only assume that they were pleased then that he decided to advance his career rather than staying loyal to his hometown club.
The truth is that sometimes players are selfish and want to look after themselves. But it’s just as true that clubs do the same. And it’s not because they have lost their “loyalty” – they simply never really had it.
Football is no different from the rest of life. Lack of loyalty in the game is not the fault of players, clubs or, dare I say it, agents. It’s human nature. It’s never changed and it never will.
Read Alex Black's blogs here on FourFourTwo.com. Find out more about his clients at Football First Agency.
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I have to disagree. My issue wasn't with you in the transfer saga, though as you say in your article people are selfish and I'm sure you'd have got some financial windfall if Gareth Barry had left Villa.
My issue was timing, I accept he's put in over ten years of loyal (and very impressive!) service, he's a great player and a great pro, but let's face it, the ten years and rejecting other clubs is used to mask anything bad about you and him. Let's look at who came in for him, I remember Newcastle being involved, they were no better than Villa at the time and he was settled, Portsmouth? That was pure desperation to escape the nightmare that Ellis and O'Leary were creating, do you think he honestly was particularly thrilled about joining them from Villa? It's a step down of huge proportions in my opinion, even when they had Redknapp. More money elsewhere? I don't think he seems money motivated and let's face it, he's always been one of Villa's top earners, he's hardly short is he....
We'd just got back into Europe, he got back into the England team as a FIRST CHOICE through playing in OUR central midfield, not being stuck wherever down Liverpool's left side and playing second fiddle to Mascherano and Gerrard, but from playing and being allowed to play how he does by OUR manager. He responded, with your assistance I am very sure, by slagging the man who got him into the best form of his career off in a newspaper. Forget about loyalty etc, that's an insult to the manager, to the club and a slap in the face to the fans, I won't ever forget the quote 'It's gone to far now, there's no going back I want to leave and that's it', I've never been so disappointed in a player in my life, and the reason fans criticise your involvement is because whether you'll admit it or not, your the one who worked it out with him to do that stupid interview, I mean I have no problem with you, but what on earth were you thinking? He jeapordised everything he had with Villa and he's very lucky everyone has taken him back in with open arms rather than booed him to sh*t every match.
Most fans didn't care if he left as long as he was replaced as long as he gave Villa another year when we were progressing rapidly to see if we could get where he wanted to go, we gave it a good go but ultimately failed so yeah I expect he will leave, but he'll leave having given us a fair amount of time to crack it since Martin O'Neill took over, shame he couldn't just do that willingly, I mean, were we SO bad to him? WE were the ones chanting Barry for England and once he got there all he was concerned about was going to another club, where let me confirm he will be nothing more than 'one of the squad', whereas at Villa he is a hero, has a chance to break the all time club app record, medals are a big thing but it's underrated leaving a legacy at a club, barely any players do it, most spend their whole careers going up and down the motorway to new clubs every few years.
I hope this comment isn't deleted as I'd say it's a contstrutctive reply, but I do question your claim of little wrong doing, because essentially he sacked you and got Michael Standing in instead, why did he get rid of you for someone else if he didn't think the wrong approach was made. I know you still have to deal with some things within a transfer with Gareth Barry, but he got rid of you because you were responsible for that disgrace in the News of The World, so perhaps loyalty wasn't the issue, perhaps you were, as I say that's your job so my issue wasn't primarily with you, but I think you were the one who wanted it to happen, maybe even more than Barry did.
I'm sure you'll live, assuming a prem team is willing to buy him, and i'm sure one will be, you can enjoy your 5% commission of his lifes work and earnings.
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