Tom Pope, one of several players out of contract at the end of the season says delaying talks about new deals is a “gamble”
The club’s position on contracts seemed to have changed over the season. After long and protracted contract talks with manager Micky Adams delayed signings and arguably affected season ticket sales in the summer, the club appeared keen to agree deals with key players. Mark Marshall and Michael O’Connor were both earmarked to have their contracts renegotiated in the New Year.
When you have players like Mark Marshall and Michael O’Connor out of contract, you are risking them leaving for nothing at the end of the season…
However, after a run of poor form, chairman Norman Smurthwaite said all talks would be put back until after the season.
Pope told the Sentinel: “I think it is risky. He obviously has to study his finances regarding season tickets and things and that is the way he is going to do it
“I just think it is difficult when you have players like Mark Marshall and Michael O’Connor out of contract, you are risking them leaving for nothing at the end of the season.
“Certainly if it doesn’t happen this season then next season we are looking to push for promotion. You are not going to get many better wingers or many better central midfielders at this level than those two.”
This is an argument that you can see both sides of. The club does not want to overstretch itself financially but it also doesn’t want to lose key players.
However, I have always argued that the club should talk to key players before the end of their contracts otherwise agents and other clubs can turn their heads.
My view is that tying key players down early on will stop transfer rumours, help season ticket prices and allows continuity – so that the manager can build around those three or four key players.
It doesn’t mean that every player should get an early contract deal – just the core of the side – and Pope is right to identify Mark Marshall and Michael O’Connor as two of them.
Rob Fielding – OVF Founder