BCFC: Contracts and Transfers

With the Championship season now ended for Birmingham City, attention turns to who will leave the club this summer and who will be brought in. The transfer window doesn’t really start until the new pre-season, but Saturday is the deadline for clubs not involved in the playoffs to submit their retained lists.

Birmingham City FC

As per rule 67.2 of the rules and regulations of the EFL:

Any Club wishing to re-engage a Contract Player whose contract is due to expire on 30 June must, save as mentioned in Regulations 67.2.1 to 67.2.4 below, notify him in writing by the third Saturday in May in the final year of his contract whether or not they offer him terms of re-engagement specifying (where applicable) such terms.

There are quite a few players who are out of contract as of June 30. Not including loan players who have now returned to their respective parent clubs, these are:

Dan Crowley, Agustin Medina, Jon Toral, Josh Dacres-Cogley, Miguel Fernandez, Charlie Lakin, Alen Halilovic, Steve Seddon, Geraldo Bajrami, Caolan Boyd-Munce, Ryan Burke, Joe Redmond, Ryan Stirk, Jack Concannon, Jayden Reid, Tate Campbell, Ivan Guzman, Remeao Hutton and Bernard Sun.

Some of those players have an option which the club can exercise to keep the player under contract for another year. These are:

Dan Crowley, Jon Toral, Miguel Fernandez, Charlie Lakin, Steve Seddon, and Tate Campbell.

There is an added wrinkle for any under-24 player under rule 67.3

Subject to the provisions of this Regulation 67, any Club which makes an offer in accordance with Regulation 67.2 of re-engagement to a Contract Player who is an Under 24 Player and which is in the opinion of the Board not less favourable than the Player’s current contractual terms, shall be entitled to a Compensation Fee in respect of the loss of the Player’s registration, should the Player sign for another Club. In order to comply with this Regulation, the annual value of the terms offered must be at least equivalent to the most favourable year’s terms in the Player’s previous contract. The terms offered to Players for re-engagements must be as favourable overall except that a signing-on fee included in the previous contract and stated to be a once only payment need not be repeated. Copies of all offers of re-engagement made to Contract Players must be sent to The League.

What this means in layman’s terms is that if Blues offer a deal to a player who is under-24 that is at least as good as the deal they currently have, even if the player rejects it and decides to go to another club, Blues will get compensation for them.

The upshot of that is that it’s not as simple as cutting players loose, especially if there might be some interest in them from elsewhere.

While Blues have not published their retained list at the time of writing, we already know some players are going. Lee Bowyer talked about how Jon Toral had gone to Spain for his injury and wasn’t coming back, while I’ve seen mention online that Josh Dacres-Cogley will not have his contract renewed. There has also been confirmation that Charlie Lakin has had his option taken up while it looks like second year scholar Amari Miller has been offered a professional deal.

It will be interesting to see how the next few weeks pan out as Blues have a dearth of people available at the club to help negotiate and finalise contracts.

You’d have to have been under a rock in the last 72 hours to know that former CEO Ren Xuandong has left the club; but I also believe the club is yet to replace Ciara Gallagher who has left her role as Club Secetary in the close season. Blues can also no longer call on the experience of Kristjaan Speakman after he departed for Sunderland earlier in the season.

That means until new appointments are made the job will fall to Birmingham Sports Holdings Chairman Zhao Wenqing along with fellow club directors Edward Zheng Gannan and Shayne Wang Yao.

I’m sure that they will do the best that they can, but I must admit my concern of how well they will be able to perform a role that I do not think they have experience in.

There’s already been issues as mentioned by my friends Chris Goulding and Matthew Elliott on the We Are Birmingham podcast this week.

They reported that some younger players at the club had been told in short phone calls this week that they were not being offered new contracts.

This is really bad. I spoke to a respected youth coach about this and they told me that these sorts of conversations have to be face to face and that they need to be held long before the end of the season to give the younger players involved the best chance to get something.

The natural thing to do when faced with a job that one doesn’t really know well is to look for expert help – which can go one of two ways.

In the past we’ve seen agents such as Darren Dein, James Featherstone and Andreas Manzano all work as advisors to help the board and Ren in particular sort out footballing decisions. While I don’t believe all agents are bad, I have to admit that Blues have had their fingers burned on several occasions and I really don’t want us to go down that route.

This is why I’ve come to the conclusion that rather than look for a replacement for Ren as CEO, Blues need to look for someone who can fulfil the same “Sporting Director” function that Kristjaan Speakman did in the past.

I have no idea who Blues should get in, but if they can get in someone who can work with both Bowyer and the footballing side and with the board then I think Blues could be in a better position.

The alternative is a messy summer – and we’ve seen just how dangerous a messy transfer window can be for the club.