Player Power

Football’s Greatest Struggle Yet

By Oli Gamp

A TRIUMPH WAS CLAIMED by Manchester City chairman Khaldoon al-Murabarak, as he spoke of the club’s no-nonsense policy to deny their misfit Carlos Tevez a move to AC Milan in the January transfer window.

After it was claimed that the diminutive Argentinian forward refused to come off the bench as a substitute against Bayern Munich last season, the ‘Player Power’ debate was once again called into question as it appeared that Tevez was trying to force through a move away from the Etihad; amid concerns the player was growing increasingly frustrated at being so distant from his family.

Al-Mubabarak was reluctant to lose Tevez at a cut price and says he took ‘a hell of a gamble’ to make him stay but it appears one of the largest and most publicised conflicts between player and club in recent history has been won by the latter on this occasion. Their once troublesome striker went on to make a contribution to helping City win their first title for 44 years, and now appears to be settled.

However, it has come to be a growing concern how little power clubs appear to actually have over players. Arsenal’s talismanic frontman Robin Van Persie has just announced he wouldn’t be renewing his contract at the club, and there is absolutely nothing that Arsenal can do about it. They have two options: cash in on him now while they can, or use his quality to assist the team in the coming season, but then lose him for nothing next summer; the latter seeming like an impossible option. Van Persie is a talented player, but Arsenal are a club with history stretching back to 1886, yet he is the one in the driving seat.

We've seen a similar situation occur with Rangers, although the club has been beset with a financial disaster of the highest order, the team’s star players have been able to snub the transferral on their contracts to the newco, abandon the sinking ship and jump on-board a few nice yachts in the Premier League. Again, Rangers are powerless in every sense of the word.

It seems this on-going struggle to contain the greed of footballers in the modern world will continue for years to come until new rules or regulations are introduced to instil more power and authority into clubs in the highest tiers of football.

Last season we saw Player Power become a major influence in forcing a manager out of work in Andre Villas-Boas at Chelsea. Unless we see changes, the next victim will be just around the corner.