City chief - Buy-out clauses fact of football life

CHRIS LAKEY Canaries chief Neil Doncaster has defended the use of get-out clauses in player transfers, saying they are becoming a fact of football life. City have lost leading scorer Robert Earnshaw and midfielder Dickson Etuhu in the space of less than a month for a total of just £5m - sales which have stirred up a huge groundswell of emotions among supporters who see the club selling the family jewels on the cheap.

CHRIS LAKEY

Canaries chief Neil Doncaster has defended the use of get-out clauses in player transfers, saying they are becoming a fact of football life.

City have lost leading scorer Robert Earnshaw and midfielder Dickson Etuhu in the space of less than a month for a total of just £5m - sales which have stirred up a huge groundswell of emotions among supporters who see the club selling the family jewels on the cheap.

Both went because a get-out clause was triggered in their contracts.


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Darren Huckerby came out all guns blazing earlier this week and the storm that followed prompted Doncaster to respond to fans' questions through the club's official web site.

The chief executive also revealed how Etuhu was allowed to insert the clause in his contract when he signed for City from Preston in January, 2006.

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“Unfortunately, Dickson was in a stronger negotiating position when he came to Carrow Road for talks than many suspect,” he said.

“The fact was that his agent was in talks with Harry Redknapp, then at Southampton, who were happy to meet Dickson's demands and to agree to the buy-out clause.

“In those circumstances we had a stark choice: either to buy Dickson with a £1.5m buy-out clause in his contract, or to lose him to Southampton.

“The board, the manager and the executive team discussed the issue and agreed unanimously on the pragmatic course of action to sign Dickson with the clause in his contract.”

Etuhu had been offered a new deal at Carrow Road but chose to reject it and move to Sunderland, although Doncaster refuted the claim that City had acted too late.

“We had been in talks with Dickson's representatives for some while prior to last weekend,” he said. “Dickson's representatives showed no appetite to agree to a new deal - given the events of last weekend perhaps that is not a surprise.”

The sale of Etuhu has brought the question of get-out clauses to the fore, but Doncaster said without one, neither Earnshaw nor Etuhu would have moved to Carrow Road.

“Buy-out clauses are increasingly a fact of football life,” he said. “I understand that Michael Owen and Obafemi Martins of Newcastle and Phil Jagielka formerly of Sheffield United may have had such clauses in their contracts and such clauses are increasingly commonplace.

“Some players are in a position to demand such clauses - usually those that are in demand from a number of clubs. Therefore when we are trying to bring players to Carrow Road who are sought after by other clubs, we have a simple choice: agree to the clauses or lose the player.

“Earnie took a cut in his wage and a drop down from the Premier League to the Championship to join us. He did so categorically on the basis that we agreed a buy-out clause of £3.5m. It was a deal breaker for him.

“In circumstances where Dean Ashton had just left the club and we needed a goalscorer to replace him I believe it was entirely right that we brought Robert Earnshaw in.”

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