Contract stalemate can’t wait till the summer

Contract stalemate can’t wait till the summer

OVF editor Rob Fielding says the situation regarding the manager’s contract needs to be sorted by the end of this year, so that the club can move forward – either under Micky Adams or without him.

If Adams’ future is uncertain that uncertainty alone could affect vital season ticket sales, it could result in the club missing transfer targets…

Rob Fielding writes…

So, five months on, contract negotiations between Micky Adams and Port Vale FC are still no nearer a conclusion. The departure of Paul Wildes probably added a hefty delay to proceedings but for the good of Port Vale FC there needs to be a conclusion to them by December.

Hold on, you may say, can’t negotiations simply continue through the season as both Adams and chairman Norman Smurthwaite have suggested?

No, I think Adams is wrong when he says his contract can expire and he will simply be a “free agent” in the summer able to negotiate with both Vale and other clubs. I can’t see that scenario happening because the Vale cannot afford another summer of confusion.

If Adams’ future is uncertain that uncertainty alone could affect vital season ticket sales, it could result in the club missing transfer targets and if Adams doesn’t sign then a search for a replacement could disrupt the whole pre-season programme.

Several key Vale players are, like Adams, also out of contract in the summer. It’s hardly going to help the club’s chances of keeping the likes of Chris Neal, Jennison Myrie-Williams and Carl Dickinson if the manager’s future is uncertain. It would certainly be understandable if none of them decided to commit until they knew who was going to be in charge next season.

But why December? Well, I think that’s a sensible time for things to reach a conclusion. Negotiations will have been ongoing for eight months by then – more than enough time to reach a settlement. It’s also more than enough time, if a settlement cannot be reached, for both parties to realise that there will be no agreement.

Finally, if Adams is to be replaced, December is a sensible month to do it, in time for the January transfer window. It would allow a new manager to come in, assess the squad and make his own moves in the window. It also allows players time to get to know the new boss thus helping with those crucial end of season contract negotiations. It allows the fans to know who’s in charge, helping season ticket sales.

This can be allowed to drag on until the end of the season. For Vale’s sake, both parties need to make an agreement for Micky to either stay or go by the end of the year…

So, I don’t think this can be allowed to drag on until the end of the season. For Vale’s sake, both parties need to make an agreement for Micky to either stay or go by the end of the year.

I definitely think that current negativity of the manager’s comments – we are in a relegation battle, the chairman talks more about transfers than me, this could be my last season etc… are doing nothing to boost club morale. We either need a re-energised Adams, with a fresh contract and commitment to the club or we need a fresh face altogether.

However, a note of caution. This isn’t the time for knee-jerk reactions. Just as I disagree with the manager talking about relegation dogfights just five games into the season, I also think dispensing with the services of a good manager so soon after promotion would be a big gamble.

But procrastination is getting us nowhere. All I want to see is a sensible timeline with a deadline at the end of it. I think the offer to Adams should be– either agree a contract by the beginning of December (and that’s 84 days away) or leave and let someone else who’s committed to Port Vale come in.

This is too important to be allowed to drag on and on…

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