For the last few weeks there has been a gradual souring of the fans feelings for Cesc Fabregas. There has been a mishmash of emotional and contractual ennui and contradictory statements arising from the fans, player and clubs.
So what is going on?
What are the rights and wrongs of this upsetting (to the fans) and unsatisfactory situation we find ourselves in?
Football reflects the normal human social and political values and mores. When you think of great human love affairs they will have almost certainly been between two consenting individuals; Samson and Delilah, Romeo and Juliet, Tom and Jerry, and so on.
Not so with the compact between the Football Club, the Player and the Fans. This is a three party deal and is inherently unstable as a result. Everyone knows that when a great affair starts to go wrong, lovers know only too well how to hurt each other deeply and sometimes unintentionally.
What is this “compact”, this understanding between the three parties?
A) The player. He needs to bring high level skills, hard work and “heart” to the party to achieve team success in Leagues and Cups.
B) The club. The club needs to reward the player with untold treasures (dosh) dependent on their assessment of the player’s part in achieving the Clubs aims of successfully winning trophies. They also need to ensure there are other quality players in the team to achieve their mutual aspirations.
C) The Fans. The fans will support and love their club forever, through thick and thin. No Less! They will also love, respect and idolise their players during their careers at Arsenal and for the rest of their lives. They will also rejoice and glory in the Club’s/Player’s success and dutifully gloat to opposition fans and players whenever and wherever possible. Without fail!
When things go well, everyone knows their role the club is successful and life is blissful!
But like all relationships things can, and do, go badly wrong. How is that characterised?
1. The Player. The player (e.g. Almunia, Denilson, and Diaby) will sometimes not be able to meet the standards of skill, endeavour or heart expected of him. The fans will lose respect and will withdraw their love, and wish the Club to sell them on. The skilful player can become disillusioned with the Club’s perceived lack of ambition, in not buying additional suitably skilful, hardworking players to help achieve success, and eventually will want to move on to a more ambitious club.
2. The Club. The club can decide a player(s) is no longer suitable and will wish to transfer him/them. Or the Club will decide the player is excellent, despite the views of the fans, and persevere with him beyond all reason. The club may antagonise the fans, by recognising the need to recruit new players but choose not to do so because of other financial goals or priorities set by the management.
3. The Fans. The fans may take a vehement dislike to a player. They may become dissatisfied and/or disillusioned with the Clubs transfer policy. They may be appalled by the Club’s lack of transparency and inability to communicate to them, or, worse to dissemble and bend the truth. (Commonly known as “spinning”).
When the compact is broken for any of the above reasons, the Club or the Player reaches for “The Contract”, in the same way other more intimate relationships reach for the “Pre-Nuptial Agreement”.
Note: at this point, the other party to the compact, the fan, is expected to sod off and await the outcome, while remaining in total ignorance of what is going on!
The Legal and related Issues. OH, DEAR!
This is why the world is full of wealthy lawyers.
This whole area is complex and fraught with “booby traps”.
Unlike you or me, footballers’ contracts are overseen by a number of overlapping authorities each with their own regulations and requirements. I am NOT going into all that. It is boring and would take forever.
Suffice to say; footballers are covered by the usual European statutory employment and human rights laws, as well as by the regulations of the game’s governing bodies FIFA and UEFA and the individual player’s terms and conditions, as agreed with the Club, and written into their contracts.
If statutory laws are broken, inevitably there will be another “Bosman” ruling.
So what, you may ask?
The first thing a lawyer will say to his client is “SAY NOTHING!” At this stage of the proceedings, marital or contractual, the big issue is usually money!
Leaving aside the abominable role played by Barca and its players, Cesc has clearly felt there is a breach of the compact rules between him and the Club, as shown above. I leave you to make your own minds up as to what that breach is, and whether or not it can be fixed.
We need to bear in mind that for centuries, parts of Spain have tried to be independent countries in their own right. The Basque and Catalan regions fought as part of a bitter and bloody civil war between the republicans and the fascists during the mid to late 1930’s, before General Franco came to power.
These memories are still deep within the Catalan psyche and will also be part of Cesc’s current problems. Irrespective of any breach of the “compact”, he will have been very flattered by the desire of his fellow Catalans for him to join them, and cannot afford to offend, not just them, but the whole o f Catalonia by telling them to get stuffed for making inappropriate public overtures.
Therefore, he cannot come out and say either” I want to stay” or “I want to go” without mortally upsetting a great number of people on either side, let alone the legal ramifications regarding his contract.
I am also sure he loves Arsenal and the Gooners who, in turn, love him.
I suggest we give him room to sort out all these conflicting emotions and contractual niceties and reflect that, if Arsenal had replaced its star players over the last few years, none of us would be in this unenviable position.
For those of you who have stuck with me to the end, a very big thank you.
Written by Red Arse, but you knew that 🙂