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The Dying Art Of A Footballer’s Loyalty To His Club

Loyalty in sports is often a one sided affair.  Fans seemingly will always remain loyal to their favorite club no matter how many losing seasons or failed signings occur.  But loyalty on the part of the club and the players is not always evident.   Is this something that football fans will just have to get used to?

So often throughout this past football season, I kept hearing player after player talk about his future with the club.  Players would repeatedly make suggestions in the press that they wanted to play the next season or finish their careers at another club.  Now as a football fan that makes me quite angry.  It is a slap in the face to those fans that have devoted their time, energy, and money to support a player and a club.  To me, a player has no business talking about any other club other than the one he has signed to play for.

These conversations occur more frequently during the summer transfer window as players and agents use the press to try and negotiate contracts.  If I was an Arsenal fan, I would be very tired of hearing Fabregas constantly talk about wanting to play for Barcelona.  To me, he has a contract to play for the Gunners and if he really wants to leave then he should put in a transfer request.  I don’t mean to single out Fabregas because he not the only player that does this.   Just today Celtic left-back Emilio Izaguirre was quoted about a possible move to Manchester United, “If I have the chance, I welcome the move with open arms. If that is the case I will thank God and I will take my opportunity.”  In my view, Izaguirre should not make any comment about his future until a decision, one way or another, is made.

All of this kind of talk is a result of the current economic system of football.  There is a lot of money out there to be made.  Player salaries have become so inflated that to them it is just good business to play for the highest bidder.  Most players have large egos and belief in their football ability that some team will always pay them more to change clubs.   With the way things are progressing, it makes me think that the days of a player staying with one club, like Ryan Giggs and Paul Scholes, for his entire career are quickly fading.

This negotiation tactic typically does not take place in American sports.  Last baseball season, if Derek Jeter would have talked about his pending free agency and said he would like to play for the Boston Red Sox, Jeter would have lampooned in the media.  The New York Yankee fans would have booed his every at bat.  I don’t know if the difference comes from American professional teams teaching their athletes on how to deal with the media or not.  More likely it is because American athletes have less control over their futures.  If a basketball player signs a five-year contract, it’s assumed he will be with that team for the duration of the contract.  There is no threat of a transfer once the contract is signed.  Also, with the use of salary caps in most leagues, the ability to trade a star player is almost impossible.

Does this bother any other fans out there?  Have we become to accustom to players negotiate their contracts through the press in the middle of the season?  I am certain the players feel loyal to their clubs the day they run out on the pitch, but for those of who cheer in the stands, we wish they would be that loyal the other days of the week as well.

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  1. Gillian

    July 4, 2011 at 9:27 am

    My overwhelming feeling toward the Fabregas situation is exhaustion. I am beyond tired of hearing about him possibly moving to Barcelona. Arsenal seem to sell him so I can stop hearing about whether he’s going to be sold.

  2. El Tri 2014

    June 29, 2011 at 12:57 pm

    Takes two to tango. I think Arsene is being loyal to Cesc; telling Barca how much he’s really worth and telling Cesc how much he wants him to stay at Arsenal. Problem is that Cesc wants to leave and it’s not due to any ungratefulness from Arsenal supporters or the club, it’s just a combination of wanting to go back home and the fact that Arsenal has gone on a 6 year streak of winning nothing with Cesc at the helm.

    So Cesc is willing to break up his loyalty with Arsenal fans, Arsene and it’s players but he wants out, he wants the promised land rather than sucking it up and trying to create championships himself in the EPL.

  3. Duncath

    June 29, 2011 at 12:36 pm

    The comments about giggs and scholes neglects the fact that there was interest from foreign clubs to sign them. This was during an era when the english sides had very little success in europe. The Jeter issue is unique in that the club probably paid over the odds not becuase of sporting reasons but because they feel that over the long run, being able to market him as a lifelong yankee would yield good returns on the investment.
    There have been examples of loyalty in the past but its mostly about money in the modern game. Don’t forget that for the fans, its almost a religion, but for the players, its their job. When you declare loyalty to a club, you do not suffer financially regardless of whether you continue to like the same team or decided to cheer for a different one. If you were in their shoes, would you really behave any differently?

  4. Pakapala

    June 28, 2011 at 9:10 pm

    The irony of this article is that if Fabregas was following this author’s code of loyalty, he should never have been a Arsenal player to begin with. They guy is trying to return to the team where he’s been groomed as a player. As far as the examples of loyalty given in the article: Giggs, Scholes, Jeter? Easy to be loyal to one club when that club is the richest team in their respective league, isn’t it?
    Speaking of american sports, you couldn’t be more wrong about there being loyalty and players see out their contracts. In the NFL (american football) team change players like they change boxers and contracts don’t mean jack because the team can just terminate your contract at any point for no reason but the fact that they no longer want you. In the NBA post-season and mid-season trades are always a big deal except usually the teams have the power in those trades with little or none of the players input/consent. Perkins getting traded to OKC from Boston is a recent example. In MLB (baseball) it is pretty much like football in Europe. Where the richest teams usually come and take the best players from the poorest teams regardless of players still in contract or not.

    As far as telling Barcelona to pay up what Arsenal ask without question:
    It’s called negotiating a price, people! Welcome to the real world. I am sure when you go into a car dealership and you’re asked $25000 for a car you just take out your card and say “charge it please”. Or you see a house you like, the listing price say $450,000 and you just say where do I sign. Of course people are going to go back and forth on how much a player transfer fee is worth until they come to an agreement.

    • nicc

      June 29, 2011 at 8:36 am

      “The irony of this article is that if Fabregas was following this author’s code of loyalty, he should never have been a Arsenal player to begin with.”

      and he would have never been a Barca palyer either as his 1st club was Mataro FC

  5. Moe

    June 28, 2011 at 5:32 pm

    please show me where he has said come get me to Barcelona, Cesc has never said anything , but it’s up the Wenger to deal with if he is leaving or not. So since he was in Barcalona’s youth accede my they should get a deal? You must be a horrible business man. Seriously if they want one of the best midfielders in the world who came to prominence in a Arsenal shirt not Barcelona they have to pay what’s fair. You talk as if he was on loan. They just need to pay the fee and move on end of story.

    • mike

      June 29, 2011 at 7:54 am

      Sure. I was there. I’ll get you the date and the quote.

      It was May 13 2010. The promotional event was Cesc Fabregas Hosts Port Aventura 15th Anniversary.

      Cesc was asked a direct question about FCB and for the first time he didn’t give one of his standard reheased answers. He said,

      If I decide to leave Arsenal, it will be to wear the shirt of Barcelona. I don’t know when this will happen though. I want to make a decision about my future before the start of the World Cup. I don’t want to be distracted by transfer talk.

      The critical part was the “I want to make a decision about my future” there was an actual gasp from more than 1 reporter when he said it, as until that exact second no one, including FCB, was aware that there was any “decision” to be made.

      It caught La Porta on the bounce an emergency meeting was called to formulate a bid – because Fabregas had just said, I only want to go to Barca and I want to make a decision now. Cat meet pigeons.

      It got a lot of attention. Fabregas then flew to London and had a meeting with Wenger and said at his next press conference that it was the best conversation of his life and he wasn’t going to say anymore about staying or going he was just going to leave it with Wenger but he confirmed he’d talked to Wenger about leaving and that it was very difficult for him.

      It was in a press conference, it was aired on Skysport we all got to see it with our own two eyes. A few days earlier after the Ventura event Fabregas’s father went on the radio in Spain and confirmed that Cesc wanted to go to Barcelona but wanted to have it all done in the right way, he wouldn’t force things, he would leave it to Arsenal. But at the time there were bids and discussions and it was all set in motion by Fabregas.

      You are obviously pretty ignorant of what has actually gone on here and the history or you would not claim Cesc never said anything but then Arsenal fans really are “in denial” big time when it comes to Fabregas.

      I never said FCB should get a special deal, this is the real world we both know it won’t work that way.

      However, you asked for respect and all I was saying is when you sign children in secret, profit from others work without fair compensation and make promises to the parents of children that you won’t be able to keep – you forfeit the right to cry and squeal about respect.

      As for what is “fair” well a negotiation will happen, an agreement will be reached, it will be legal just as your signing of Fabregas against FCB’s wishes was legal to an extent. Fair is a very arbitrary word and one that Arsenal seems to selectively use only when it suits them.

      I’m done, if you don’t want to take on board these facts whatever, it’s what I would expect really. I know all the intricacies of what has happened over the years and I really get sick of this belief that Arsenal fans have that their club is whiter than white and that you haven’t set in motion the chain of events that leads to this by your own sharp practices. Because you have and you should get the hell over yourselves.

  6. Moe

    June 28, 2011 at 1:56 pm

    Arsenal is due RESPECT because the player is under contract. Arsenal want a certain price for him, so pay up or shut up. Stop with the tapping up, if you want him pay and stop wasting peoples time.

    • mike

      June 28, 2011 at 2:02 pm

      You are due compenation because he has a contract but you aren’t due respect. Not with the ethics of how you feed your business model.

      You are due no respect at all.

      • Liam

        June 28, 2011 at 2:16 pm

        Gotta love the Barcelona supporter lecturing on ethics. Racial slurs and feigning injury are such virtuous pastimes. Beautiful game indeed.

        • mike

          June 28, 2011 at 3:43 pm

          Gotta love people who make poor assumptions. I’m not a Barcelona supporter I’m just not an entirely one eyed Arsenal fan either.

      • Moe

        June 28, 2011 at 2:16 pm

        Please, your coach i will say is a class, but not the rest of the organization, they have continually tapped Cesc up in the press. why cant they just let it run its course, putting a Barcelona Jersey on him was tacky as well. If they wanted him back so bad why have they waited so long to try bring him back. I really don’t see how Arsenal have disrespected FCB at all? By signing a player who wanted to come to Arsenal? No one held a gun to his head. you must be one of those delusional supporters who thinks Barcelona can do no wrong. Just pay the money so everyone can move on.

        • Moe

          June 28, 2011 at 2:18 pm

          i ment to say Pep is a class act

        • mike

          June 28, 2011 at 4:11 pm

          A player who wanted to come to Arsenal sure. However you don’t ask that Fabregas respects you – you ask that FCB respect you. I’m simply saying that as Arsenal shows zero respect to FCB and their wishes, it is laughable for you to all squeal about not receiving respect in return from FCB. They don’t owe you that. You raid their academy when they have done 5-6 years work with players and Arsenal does so in the full knowledge that it is against their wishes.

          You say you don’t see how Arsenal disrespects FCB?

          Arsenal is quite deliberate in what they do, they scouted Fabregas more than 50 times and then they approached his family. They did it all in secret, they never approached FCB or asked for permission to speak to him. They did not pay any compensation until FCB took the matter to court and then a fee equivalent of 1.1 million was paid at a later date. You all are so hypocritical with your complaints. I can see why FCB would have no respect for Arsenal. You don’t deal via the front door and yet you expect everyone else to show you such courtesy and etiquette? That’s not how it works.

          Cesc and his parents, were promised that if and when Cesc wanted to go home their would be no barrier to him doing so. It was an understandable reassurance made to the family of a (at that time) 15 year old boy. Of course last Summer his move was blocked because there is much too much money involved to honour promises made to children’s parents.

          The fact is FCB did not want Fabregas to leave but were powerless to do anything about Arsenal raiding their academy because of their laws – you say they didn’t want him back but the truth is they have been guided by the player. Fabregas went to a promo event last May or so and he made a “come and get me” comment about wanting to return to Barcelona – it was then that they pursued having him return home.

          No one is saying you held a gun to his head, you really don’t get it.

          That’s not where the ethics and the lack of respect comes in.

          It is the process by in secret approaching players that other clubs have invested years and money in (Cesc lived at La Masia he was educated there etc) and then making promises of how you will give them this and that and then tempting them to leave without compensation or going through the front door, that some clubs don’t approve of.

          I can see their point of view.

          Like I said, you do what you do, you profiteer and it’s very good for Arsenal but don’t on top of that have the audacity to expect clubs who you do this to – to respect you.

          I mean really. It just shows a crashing lack of any kind of reason.

      • nicc

        June 29, 2011 at 8:34 am

        the ethics of how Arsenal feeds their business model? what are you on about? it’s now Arsenals fault that laws in England are different than they are in Spain?
        what has Arsenal done wrong, legally, ethically or morally?

  7. Taylor

    June 28, 2011 at 1:53 pm

    Wow it doesn’t happen in the American pro sports ?
    Have you ever heard about a guy named LeBron James ?

    • Moe

      June 28, 2011 at 2:00 pm

      Labron’s contract had expired. Where in Football players still have 3 years left on their contract and want to be transferred. It does happen with in the US sometimes but its common with football players wanting to be transferred way before they see out their contract

      • nc

        June 28, 2011 at 3:23 pm

        LeBron is a bad example, but you do see NFL guys sitting out training camp waiting for contracts to be renegotiated even though those contracts haven’t expired. It happens every single year. Furthermore, those contracts are not guaranteed dollars, so it’s no skin off the owner’s back to pony up the dough and tear it up the following offseason. At least in MLB contracts are guaranteed even though players can be discarded easily.

  8. nc

    June 28, 2011 at 12:16 pm

    “I don’t mean to single out Fabregas” – Actually you do, hence the sarcastic picture on your post

    “it makes me think that the days of a player staying with one club, like Ryan Giggs and Paul Scholes, for his entire career are quickly fading.” – Interesting you choose two of the more skilled players from one of the richer clubs in England to highlight your example of player loyalty to a club over salary. Had Giggs and Scholes started their careers at Wigan do you suppose they would have remained there at a discount?

    Your take on Jeter and American Sports couldn’t be more wrong. Yankees fans are blinded by their love of Jeter and would side with him on any issue even if it was salary. If Derek Jeter demanded double the pay or he walks to another team, the fans would support him and say that he is worth every penny. Also, contracts in pro sports are totally meaningless even in America. Ask Donovan McNabb about that sweet deal the Redskins cut him last year.

    • The Gaffer

      June 28, 2011 at 12:19 pm

      NC, Matt didn’t pick out the image for the post. I did.

      The Gaffer

      • nc

        June 28, 2011 at 1:34 pm

        Oh right. I remember this from another thread a while back now.

        In the spririt of transparency I wouldn’t blame him for singling out Cesc. I’m annoyed with the constant subplot of his desire to play for Barca too.

  9. jason

    June 28, 2011 at 12:15 pm

    Loyalty cuts both ways. Clubs sell players all the time, even if the player wants to stay. If clubs are allowed to do what is in their best interests then why shouldn’t players be allowed to do what is in theirs.

  10. Gorskino10

    June 28, 2011 at 11:26 am

    Problem is being a Footballer is a short career and they know they have to make as much money as possible in the time, plus also if better clubs come in for you then it may persuade you to leave to win trophies etc…
    In some cases you have felt stale and want to have a new fresh start somewhere else, maybe that being in another league.

    The players that keep getting menthioned are Giggs and Scholes etc.. which is true they came from the Youth, but they were very well paid and at a team that were winning or challanging if Man United were both 5 team they would of left.

    Some players can become loyal as look at my team NUFC, Coloccini wants to stay and so does Barton but the club could kick or sell these both off, This happened for Beckham/Butt/Phil Neville they gave the commitment for the club and all would of stayed and retired at the club but they kicked them out.

    I hate the phrase “there is no loyalty these days” because there is, its getting a little less as the players hitting over 300 Apps for a club etc.. is getting shorter and shorter.
    Loyalty is still around, if you take me for example if i was in the EPL playing for NUFC my team i support i would NEVER leave, aslong as i get decent pay so it will pay for home/bills etc… Then i would NEVER leave that club. But these days money talks both sides, clubs want to kick you out for a quick buck and players want to leave to better and bigger teams.

    Andy Carrol is the best example a guy that could of become a legend has joined a club not much better than us, if he went to the top ManU/Chelsea/Arsenal/City etc.. i would understand but he didnt, He left because of more money and the owner accepted it because he wanted the 35M its the greed from both sides that affect the image of Loyalty, Andy is a prime example of someone without any, but some have loyalty but never get menthioned someone like Tony Hibbert, been at a club NEVER winning much but at 30 now and been at Everton his whole life from the Youth setup he is someone who understands his place in life and is content with being at the club he loves, why leave it?

    • Dan

      June 28, 2011 at 12:11 pm

      I think Andy Carroll is a poor example. Maybe you’re a bit biased…?

      Liverpool is the second most successful club in the history of England, they’re reinvesting, and you can bet they’ll be back towards the top in the next couple seasons. Newcastle fans can’t say the same with your penny pinching owner (greedy as you said). Newcastle won’t see the top 7 for a long time with the way the team is run. Also, as you mentioned, he’ll be getting paid more. So on all accounts, it’s a vertical career move. Good for him, right? He’s playing for a better club, and he’s getting paid more.

  11. mike

    June 28, 2011 at 11:16 am

    Er the Fabregas picture and citation would work better if he wasn’t trying to return to the club he played for before Arsenal talked him into moving to London at 15 yrs of age. He is a lifetime FCB supporter, he is a catalan and he is a graduate of la masia. So really the gunners are reaping the reward of scouting young FCB cadets – that being that in the end that is “home” and that is where the heart lies.

    • mike

      June 28, 2011 at 11:20 am

      oh and for the record it will have been very profitable for Arsenal – so I’m not going to cry river for them. I think when you constantly raid clubs academies for cheap/free imports you deserve everything you get and more.

      • Matt

        June 28, 2011 at 11:33 am

        Too true. His club has always been, and will always be, Barca.

        Be grateful for the time he has given Arsenal. As a United fan I know what it’s like to get dumped for the allure of Catalania (Pique). At least you had Cesc this long.

        • RVPFan

          June 28, 2011 at 11:41 am

          Arsenal turned him into a player he is today, a world-class midfielder. Arsenal supporters and Arsenal FC gave him a home, nurtured him, groomed him. Doesn’t that count for anything? Jesus people, get over your hatred towards Arsenal. If they want Cesc, give him his value. That’s all we are asking okay? Cesc himself should feel disrespected when a club he loves doesn’t value him much.

          • Moe

            June 28, 2011 at 11:47 am

            RVPFan is correct, He might have been sold if FCB paid what Cesc is worth. As long as they Pay 40 Million im fine for him to go. today there is a report that FCB bid 45 Million for Neymar, he’s not on Cesc’s level yet, and FCB said they would not Bid more than 35 for Cesc. The real issue is FCB, they need to pay up if they really want him. I wonder if they realize he will be sitting on the bench a lot. He will be the most expensive squad player ever. I understand him wanting to go home but it’s actually dumb, he will not play every week there, he should have waited a few more years until Xavi is done and just stepped in, now he will just be a squad player just like Henry was when he went there.

          • mike

            June 28, 2011 at 1:49 pm

            You know it’s funny there is a promo pic from the Cesc Fabregas Show at the top because Arsene Wenger appeared on that show and he gave a talk on how a pplayer is “built” he talked about the foundations etc etc and one thing he said was if the player does not have the technical skills by the time he is 14 he never will be a technically gifted player – so you know Arsenal got the player that the best academy in world football trained and you got him for next to nothing because under spanish law minors can’t be signed to contracts.

            Cesc did not spend much time in training with Arsenal. He was straight into the first team. He debuted within a few weeks of signing and was a regular in the 04/05 season.

            What Fabregas has been and represents is a finacial gift that keeps on giving one of the best returns on investment Arsenal has had.

            Cesc doesn’t feel disrespecgted by FCB’s unwillingness to cough up large for a player that was there cadet. He knows full well that as his choice to leave will now cost the club millions because he wants to come home – that his return is “political” and a difficult pill for some fans to swallow.

            The truth is Arsenal signed a player but FCB did want him to leave, La Porta visited Fabregas and his family at their home and personally asked him not to go. Arsenal will now profit from Fabregas’s decision. FCB have no reason to enjoy the position they are in and as Arsenal signed Fabregas against their express wishes and showed them no respect, why the hell do you think Arsenal is due some respect now? You aren’t.

            You raid Spains 16 year olds for fast entry into your first team with little effort from you and you profiteer, if Spain’s c;ubs could do the same if our law enabled it – then you would moan your backside off.

          • mike

            June 28, 2011 at 1:57 pm

            typo: that should read fcb DIDN’T want him to leave

          • nicc

            June 29, 2011 at 8:31 am

            Mike, you do know that Fabregas has been with Arsenal longer than he was with Barca, right? he was only with Barca for about 5 years after they bought him from Mataro FC.

            “You raid Spains 16 year olds for fast entry into your first team with little effort from you and you profiteer, if Spain’s c;ubs could do the same if our law enabled it – then you would moan your backside off.”
            oh please. Barca was almost brought up on tapping up charges regarding how they were trying to sign 2 Arsenal youths last year!

  12. BCB

    June 28, 2011 at 10:59 am

    I think it’s a fact of life that top players will want to play for the best teams and earn the most money possible. I don’t think this is limited to the Premier League or any other European league. I think it exists throughout American sports as well.

    Jeter, along with Yankee teammates Posada and Rivera have stayed with one team but they are very much the exception and the Yankees are never going to lose a bidding contest with any other MLB team. Similarly, Giggs and Scholes played their whole career for one of the world’s wealthiest clubs. Neither situation is typical.

    Nick Hornby pointed out in Fever Pitch many years ago that clubs are always going to mean more to the fans than to the vast majority of their players. This has become even more acute today, as so few clubs at the top level are comprised of more than one or two locally developed players.

    As an English fan of a Premier league team, who also happens to live in the USA and follow pro sports here, I’m resigned to the fact that this is how it is.

    In the rare case that a player makes a full career at one of my teams, I will applaud it. But for the most part this ship sailed long ago. I just hope my teams can buy low and sell high!!

    • Crpls

      June 28, 2011 at 11:29 am

      Another thing people forget that in the old days, in most professional sports, loyalty was almost forced due to lack of free agency or the ability to leave after your contract ended. It’s still relatively recently in many sports where players have had a good amount of control over where they played.

      To use MLB as an example, the reserve clause was in play until 1976. There were certainly some cheap owners throughout history and though some of them would sell players to get money when they had high value, others would not. I can guarantee you there would’ve been almost no lifelong, say, Phillies or Senators for most of the first half of the 20th century.

  13. Crpls

    June 28, 2011 at 10:52 am

    I know that everyone likes to go on and on about loyalty, but they work in a several billion dollar industry and are the prime revenue generators so they should feel free to make as much money as they want. It’s nice when players show loyalty–although I think players like Giggs and Scholes who played their whole careers for one of the top revenue generators are bad examples–but if they can make more with their talents, more power to them.

    Why do fans/supporters seem to think they have to follow a different code of ethics than you or I because they make more? If I’m making Salary A, but i have the talents that another company want and they offer Salary B that is double my current salary and I’m able to move, I’m probably gonna be encouraged by friends and family to do so in most circumstances.

    • Dan

      June 28, 2011 at 11:06 am

      Exactly. Professional athletes, it seems, are the only people who are ridiculed for taking a vertical career move. While I would love to keep Luka as a Spurs fan, I can’t blame him for wanting to be closer to the top of his profession (and getting paid almost triple his current salary). If Spurs can’t match his career ambition, then I can’t be upset if he wants to leave. I’d be the same way, and I might even say I think players SHOULD be that way, always striving to PLAY WELL ENOUGH FOR THEIR CURRENT CLUB to earn a “promotion” of sorts. That’s how the rest of the working world works.

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