Like every Evertonian I was pleased to see key men like Phil Jagielka and Seamus Coleman tied down to new long-term deals, and it’s good to hear that similar things are in the offing for Sylvain Distin and Leon Osman. That can only increase the harmony and sense of unity in an already close-knit squad. But equally I know I won’t be alone in being a bit perturbed by the news that Marouane Fellaini has a buy-out clause in his contract, not dissimilar in the way it could work to that of Demba Ba while he was at Newcastle. Newcastle were probably happy to agree on Ba’s clause when he signed because there was a risk he wouldn’t work out due partly to his knee problems. But I doubt David Moyes was keen to agree on a clause when Fellaini extended his contract in 2011.
It’s impossible to avoid the concern that if Everton don’t make the Champions League, they could be forced to sell a player for less than his market value. It all reminds me how much the balance of power has shifted towards players and away from the clubs these days. Speaking as both a former player and manager, I was surprised when I read Fellaini saying he would stay at the club until 2015 and see out his contract if he was wanted. It should be up to the manager how long a player stays around – nobody else!
Things needed to change when the Bosman ruling came in and it was right that players got a little bit more protection, but with buy-out clauses and other such things it’s gone too far.