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TRANSFERS: United miss out on windfall

20 May 2013

When three minutes matters

There is possibly nothing more complicated within the realms of football than the player transfer – and particularly when that transfer agreement has a number of appearance related clauses built into the framework. 

United have both benefitted and missed out due to such clauses in recent seasons, but none have come as close or as caused as much frustration as the January 2011 move for Gary Madine to Sheffield Wednesday.

“I think we have to explain that transfer agreements are just like player contracts these days in that every single one is different,” managing director John Nixon said.

“Our transfer of Gary Madine to Sheffield Wednesday stretches to five pages and it has a number of clauses and conditions included along the way.” 

“This was a particularly complex move with an overall fee based on an initial down payment,” he explained. “There were then a series of payments to follow at set times, with an additional accreditation system incorporated for appearances made by the player.

“This, in itself, was quite complicated in that each appearance only counted as a half if Sheffield Wednesday stayed in League One at that end of that season. They were set to count as a full appearance for every Championship game played, and would then go on to register as a double appearance if they then went on to play in the Premier League.

“On top of all of that, we agreed another lump sum payment should Sheffield Wednesday maintain their Championship status the first season after they had been promoted.”
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“As you can see, it was all very complicated and, in this case, it has also been a really interesting one and a good example of how you can just miss out if circumstances don’t go in your favour,” he added.

“The appearance related clause in this contract stipulated that Gary had to make 23 league appearances this season for a further £100,000 payment to be triggered. The player [Gary Madine] would have received 10% of that with the remainder coming to Carlisle United Football Club, had it been achieved. 

“Gary actually only registered 22 qualifying appearances this season and, when we sat down and had a look at it, we found that we were only three minutes away from activating that clause.” 

“For it to qualify as an appearance he had to start a league game or come onto the pitch as a substitute before the 75th minute. There was a game back in February where he came on in the 78th minute – so you could argue that was the one. He had a hamstring injury for a number of weeks after that, but he was on the bench for the last game of the season, and our fingers were crossed. Unfortunately he didn’t get on at all.”

“That’s just how football goes for you sometimes,” he admitted. “You win a few and you lose a few when a transfer is structured like this. This one is a very good example, though, of just how close you can come. 

“The frustrating part of it for us was that we had the February appearance down as a 73rd minute substitution when, in actual fact, he came on during the 78th minute. Obviously when we double-checked it we found that not to be the case but, like I say, that’s football for you.”

“This was a particularly complex model but it did follow the pattern for appearance related clauses,” he told us. “They tend to be based on starting appearances or, if the player is on the bench, on him getting on before the 75 minute mark. 

“Usually, as you get to the end of the season, the issue has either already been concluded or you know, beyond doubt, that it isn’t going to be anywhere near. This one had us all interested almost until the very last kick.”

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