'I am not suggesting that Jamar was ‘tapped up’, but we all know it happens in football' - owner on Loza exit
- Credit: Ian Burt
King's Lynn Town owner Stephen Cleeve with his regular insight into life behind the scenes at The Walks
When you sign a footballer you believe them to be your player, but in reality, all it really gives you is the ability to negotiate a fee for his services should another club want to sign him.
December 12 saw the Linnets gain a credible 0-0 draw in a smashing game of football against the league leaders Torquay United, our first in front of fans.
Playing that day was Jamar Loza, who, like every other player in blue and gold, was excellent. Everyone seemed happy. Just 48 hours later, Jamar missed training with a prior engagement and 24 hours after that an offer for his services came in from Woking FC.
Jamar felt that he was not playing enough games; he had started five games and come on as a sub in another four in the 13 league games that we had played and felt his future should be back where he played last season. Our manager was rightly upset, especially about the way that the transfer had been conducted, and from that point on his position at the club was untenable.
I am not suggesting that Jamar was ‘tapped up’, but we all know it happens in football and whilst I felt that King’s Lynn were paying him decent money, I understand that Woking offered him a 42pc pay rise and a signing-on fee and that was enough for him to feel his future lay elsewhere.
Before the season even started, we lost another player when a local team made him an offer that he could not refuse. Whilst the rumour mills work overtime in football, often the manager and the chairman are the last people to hear about a player’s move and by that point the deal is almost done. The only thing left to agree is the amount of compensation to be paid.
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A couple of seasons ago, another one of our contracted players went on trial with a Football League club. Permission was not sought, he simply went. It is, of course, illegal, but it happens.
From my side of the fence, our club received all of the wages back that we paid Jamar, a profit and lots of add-ons in case Jamar propels Woking to new heights, so from a business perspective I have certainly had worse deals.
From the manager’s side, it disrupts his team and makes life tough at a hugely important time of the year when the games come thick and fast as he looks for a replacement.
I have no problems with players wanting to move up - we are, whatever we may feel, a shop window where players can display their wares and secure a deal higher up the food chain. That shop window needs to be paid for so as long as the deal is fair for the club, then it is the perfect mutual symbiotic relationship. I just feel that openness on all sides would be far better in the long run for everyone as, after all, football is a very small world.
Our match at Alfreton in the FA Trophy was cancelled on Saturday as our hosts had a waterlogged pitch. I wrote in our programme notes for today’s fixture against Notts County that the match would in all probability be played on January 4 or 11, the next round being on January 16. I was very wrong. The FA contacted us on Sunday and said it had to be played in a five-day window and when I contacted them to remind them that December 24 was Christmas Eve they replied that if that was the only date available then we had to play it then.
Alfreton wanted to play the game on Tuesday with a backup of Basford’s 3G pitch on Wednesday (December 23).
Clearly this was unfair on our players, many of whom have day jobs - they need some degree of certainty, just before Christmas.
I had several discussions with Alfreton, who rejected my offer to play the game at The Walks as their manager thought it would be giving up home advantage (although it would generate them far more revenue as they are not allowed crowds whereas we are) so we settled on playing at Alfreton on Tuesday and if the match was not playable the following day at midday, we would then switch venues to Basford. That way, at least the players knew what day to take off from work and as fans are still banned in Nottingham it would not inconvenience them.
In the spirit of Christmas and given the difficult times clubs are facing I would have hoped for a little more flexibility from the FA. I usually try to take Sundays off from work so the FA will find themselves removed from Mrs Cleeve’s Christmas card list this year.