Is it time for clubs to stop being held to ransom?

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John Henry

This summer’s transfer window so far has been a prime example of the way modern football functions, featuring: inflated transfer fees and offers, pre-season tours around the world to market ‘the brand’, agents attempting to push through big money moves, and clubs desperately trying to hold onto their key assets.

Most importantly though, this summer has shown how strong player power has become. Last summer Robin van Persie achieved his move by weakening Arsenal’s hand via a statement criticising the club, and this summer Luis Suarez has followed suit expressing his desire to leave Liverpool this week.

In the football world it is players that hold all the power rather than managers. Top sports lawyer Ian Lynam argues that: “Although in some ways players have fewer rights than the majority of employees, they do possess a lot of power – and particularly after the Bosman ruling. If a player makes it clear he wants to leave, there is little point in clubs holding on to someone who may, potentially, begin performing badly. In such instances it’s better to cash in.” (Source: The Guardian).

This statement summarises what is wrong with football, if a player has signed a contract for several years it should not be up to him when he is able to break this contract and leave the club. To prevent players from being able to act like this, clubs need to make a stand and in the case of Suarez it appears Liverpool are prepared to do so.

The owner John W Henry has said that the Uruguayan frontman will not be sold this summer at any cost (Source: BBC). I for one commend this attitude as it should be clubs who are in charge of which members of their squad will be sold and for what price. For Liverpool this approach does present a big risk, especially considering the volatile nature of the player they are aiming to keep against his will.

The majority of Liverpool fans have continued to support Suarez, giving him a rousing applause as he entered the field for Gerrard’s testimonial last weekend. This was more out of hope and desperation to keep their star man than any love for the player. At Tottenham it is a similar situation as the fans keep their fingers crossed that Bale will be in North London come September 3rd and not in Madrid.

There does not need to be this desperation from fans to support players who are clearly not interested in staying at their club.

History has shown that selling a key player can be good for a club overall. It means that this player will not stay and become a toxic influence in the dressing room or let their performances on the pitch drop. It often allows a team to restructure and allows players to move out of the shadow of the former talisman, it happened at Arsenal when van Persie left and the team scored more goals without the Dutchman than when they had him.

When Manchester United lost Ronaldo to Real Madrid many feared that it signalled the end of the Lancashire clubs success, but the team regrouped – winning the league cup the following season and the league title two years on. This shows that losing a key asset can often be a positive for a football club and I believe Liverpool, Tottenham and Manchester United would all be best suited relinquishing their top players (on the clubs terms) and reinvesting this money to improve the team overall rather than continuing to rely on individual players to win games. are seeking new writers to join the team! If you’re passionate about football, drop us a line at “” to learn more.

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