Friday, 29 July 2011

Mark Stewart and The Mysterious £100,000

Three weeks ago City ‘made’ a £100,000 bid for Romain Vincelot then of Dagenham and there have been questions asked as to where this has gone now it seems we need to shift players out before bringing any more in. However, as Falkirk and the SFA call in FIFA to try and sort out whether City owe them money as part of the Mark Stewart transfer, it seems that money may have been put aside in case City are found to owe The Bairns over Stewart . Falkirk and the SFA believe that City owe the Scottish club as Stewart was under the age of 23, while City – with the backing of the English FA - believe that no fee is required for Stewart.

Falkirk, who Stewart played for between the ages of 18 and 22, believe they have a case for compensation as City signed him before he turned 23. City, on the other hand, will argue that because they waited until the 1st of July to officially sign Stewart, that no compensation is owed.

This all hinges on when the ‘seasons end’ is. FIFA rules state that;

Training compensation is due when:
i) a player is registered for the first time as a professional;
ii)  a professional is transferred between clubs of two different
associations (whether during or at the end of his contract)
before the end of the season of his 23rd

Stewart turned 23 on June 22nd and it is this that is causing the dispute. If, as Falkirk suspect, the season ends after the final game, then Stewart turned 23 during the 2011/12 season and compensation would be due for any transfer until the end of the coming season. However, it is likely that City take the view that the season ends officially on June 30th, which would mean Stewart turned 23 in the 2010/11 season and explain why City waited until July 1st – the first day of the 2011/12 season – to sign him, thus eradicating the need for any compensation.

Falkirk’s local paper reports that the club are asking for £290,000 in compensation, at face value a wildly optimistic figure considering FIFA’s rules on transfers;

For players moving from one association to another inside the territory
of the EU/EEA, the amount of training compensation payable shall be
established based on the following:
a) If the player moves from a lower to a higher category club, the
calculation shall be based on the average training costs of the
two clubs;
b) If the player moves from a higher to a lower category, the
calculation shall be based on the training costs of the lower category club.

Considering it is likely City will be classed as a lower ranked club than Falkirk, the compensation – if due – will be based on average costs of training at City, which will be considerably lower than Falkirk who put a fair bit into youth development. If we compare Stewart to an established youth player of our own, such as Luke O’Brien, it is unlikely that any tribunal would award us much more than £50,000 based on previous rulings.

However, if FIFA side with Falkirk, City could be liable for fees of up to £300,000 - depending on club classification - according to their own rules. It is certainly a murky area and one which is not easy to second guess. 

From where I’m standing - and I'm no legal expert - it is likely that FIFA will enforce some sort of compensation, but a small token gesture, hopefully which City will have budgeted for once the story came about. These transfers are a grey area which need clearing up, but let’s hope City aren’t the club to get caught out big style by it.
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Sunday, 24 July 2011

A New Look Bradford City

The game against Bolton today was the first chance I have had to see the new-look Bradford City and I have to say I was pleasantly surprised. Following last year and despite the numerous tub-thumping articles in the T&A, I was expecting a dour, downbeat experience at Valley Parade today. How I was wrong. I forgot how much good a close season can do and the atmosphere around Valley Parade today was much different to that experienced towards the back end of last season. It was wonderful to see the team warm up with a vigour rarely seen in matches last season. Peter Jackson’s infectious attitude has clearly rubbed off throughout the club and the players seem to be lapping it up.

On the players, though, it is refreshing to see a group of individuals who are clearly as up for it as them. For a long time we City fans have been used to seeing players going through the motions and clearly not putting a shift in. And while not wanting to put too much emphasis on what was just a friendly game, it was great to see players tracking back, putting in tackles and willing to get forward. The wingers were particularly pleasing and while neither Dominic Rowe nor Jack Compton are the finished articles, there are definitely two good players to be had there with the right coaching.

Guy Branston performed how we all knew he would as well. He was a tower of strength at the back and had Croat international Ivan Klasnic in his pocket for the majority of the game. Branston, a no nonsense defender won 99.9% of all headers today and his presence seemed to bring out the best in his partner at the back Steve Williams. Williams performed today as we all know he can – and without the lapses in concentration – showing just what a good player he can be. On his day Williams is easily better than League Two and Branston looks to be the perfect foil for him. While the partnership is obviously in its infancy, it looks as if it will be a good partnership for City, and with Luke O’Brien playing as solidly as ever and a returning Simon Ramsden, City look solid in the defensive department.

Of the new signings, the Scottish duo of Chris Mitchell and Mark Stewart both looked impressive. Mitchell consistently delivered excellent corners and if he can keep this up over the season, City must be a threat from set pieces. Stewart looked like a work horse up front with his never ending running and while he didn’t get any chances to show his finishing ability, he looks a clever player who should cause problems in League Two. Nialle Rodney came on and scored a goal that would be worthy of Match of the Day status as he breezed past three Bolton defenders and coolly finished showing he could be a very important player for the club this season.

Without wanting to place too much emphasis on a friendly performance, I saw enough today to suggest that this coming season is going to be much more fruitful than the last few years. The players today looked like a team and with a vocal captain at the back, things can only get better. The new look Bradford City may not sweep everything in front of it aside this season, but it is going to be much more exciting to watch.

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Wednesday, 13 July 2011

Back to the Future

Gary Walsh. Matt Clarke. Mark Schwarzer. Paul Henderson. We’ve had some good goalkeepers recently. Simon Eastwood. Lenny Pidgeley. Boaz Myhill. We’ve also had some dodgy keepers recently. The number one jersey at Valley Parade has become somewhat of a problem position in recent years. Rhys Evans did a fine job for a year, as did Paul Henderson and Donovan Ricketts until his head went AWOL. But otherwise the other custodians of recent years have been a bit less successful. Simon Eastwood, Matt Glennon and Lenny Pidgeley have all had their faults. Even the great, bright hope for the future Jon McLaughlin struggled at times last year and failed to live up to his promise from the previous season.

Not only have City struggled to fill the position in recent years, it has often been neglected by managers, most notably in the cost cutting season of 09/10 when Stuart McCall saved a paltry £300 a week for a number one keeper. A peculiar decision, considering the goalkeepers position is arguably the most important within the team.

Having just McLaughlin on the books currently, City are obviously in need of another shot stopper, with 4 trialists currently down at Apperley Bridge most notably, Rhys Evans.

Evans splits fans opinions, he returns hopeful of a third spell at Valley Parade. I’d welcome him back once again. I don’t think we have replaced him adequately since he left two years ago, and his record of 17 clean sheets that season shows he clearly knows how to be a good goalkeeper. He has his limitations, but I think at this level Evans is an excellent choice of keeper. He is apparently a ‘disruptive’ influence in the dressing room and a bit of ‘a loner’ but if as reported he has been badgering Jacko into signing him, this seems highly unlikely. I remember his biggest weakness being the laughable ‘he can’t dive to his left’ comment from one of the message boards. City could do far worse that bringing Evans back in.

More curiously though, is Iain Turner appearing on trial. Everton’s equivalent of Steve Harper, the perennial backup, has turned up on trial, despite rumoured interest from Leeds, Sheffield United and Hull. The former Evertonian has represented Scotland at U21 and ‘B’ levels, and has been involved with the senior squads before. Having played the vast majority of his short career in the Championship, he should have the required pedigree to make the number one shirt his. Having played a handful of games in the Premier League too, it seems odd that he should be trialling at a League Two club. Having only played 50-odd games in his career to date though, it is time the 27-year old started paying regular first team football and he would represent an excellent capture if Peter Jackson decides to make him an offer.

Both Evans and Turner would represent improvements in the goalkeeping department on recent years, but it would perhaps be wiser to not return to Evans for a third time and go for a fresh keeper in Iain Turner. The Scot would form the foundation of arguably one of, if not the, best defences in the division, with a fully fit Simon Ramsden, Guy Branston, Steve Williams and Luke O’Brien. Not only that, he would help further our transition into McBradford City FC!

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