Tottenham’s need to sign top class players is always surrounded by the uncertainty of whether they will be involved in the Champions League. It, plus money, is the magnet which attracts the best of players. Here is a possible contractual solution when planning for next season.
We will know where we stand within a week but it pays to have a plan just in case our dreams don’t come true. 4th place is a significant achievement but not ideal and no improvement on last year. 5th place and the draining effect of a run in the Europa League eventually hamstrings (literally) the chances of Champions League qualification next season. Apart from some exciting and entertaining Thursday nights, it is no more use than a top ten finish and safety from relegation. Oh yes, and whoever came up with the idea of Sunday lunchtime kick-offs needs shooting up against the same wall as the guy who decided to allow the F.A. Cup Final to kick off at tea time on Saturday.
I have an idea for a contract offer that Spurs might use to attract truly world-class players even if we do not qualify for the Champions League proper: tailored escape clauses. We have to recognise that the top players are not going to want to sign for a team that is at risk of being knocked out in the qualifying round. However a really good salesman (are you listening Mr Levy?) could make a successful pitch of the following; a contract where an escape clause is triggered in the first transfer window provided another club is prepared to meet in full the fee that we paid for the player. Similarly if the player chooses to remain with us for the rest of the season to try and help us qualify next year for the Champions League, another escape clause could be triggered at the end of the season subject to the same conditions, provided he has made a certain number of Premier League appearances.
The club should be open about the terms provided a player agrees. The fans would know where we stood and should accept that in the real world something like this is necessary for us to stand a chance of signing the top players if we finish this season 4th or lower. We could even offer Gareth Bale a similar guarantee on top of his current long-term contract albeit with the buyout sum set at a daunting figure, in excess of £100 million. I am sure there are a few clubs that would be prepared to pay it. I would hate to see him go but it may make the difference between us surviving the cost of the new stadium whilst remaining in the Premiership.
Once upon a time a passionate selling job of the club’s history, its style, it plans for the future and London itself could be enough to persuade even the best players to sign, especially in some cases where the player or their family already had some kind of emotional attachment to Spurs. These days even if you are a dyed-in-the wool Spurs supporter it is only money and a guarantee of Champions League football that are the deciding factors – so we have to find a way of delivering both or letting them go.
So What Do You Say?
Would such a contract be a possible solution to Tottenham’s problem of attracting top class players?