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reckons attitudes are changing now that club infrastructures are more modern: “If a club is well run, with a good academy, training ground and stable boardroom, that makes it attractive to players. If the area is pleasant with a good fanbase, players see that as a chance to progress in front of a captive audience.”

He mentions Bournemouth and Norwich City as examples of well-run clubs that while “out of the way” can be attractive to nomadic players with families in the middle or end of their careers who want to settle down; for younger players, somewhere they can improve without the distractions found in bigger cities.

Craig Gardner once of Aston Villa...

Moving experiences TRANSFER WINDOW

...and Birmngham City

Players from abroad often reject moves outside of London because, says Mick, in London they’re more likely to find a community that reflects their language and culture. But there’s one constant that determines a player’s decision to reject a club: the manager. McGuire says no one in their right mind would move without meeting the manager: “The manager’s attitude, strategy for you, positional and in terms of your progression, is what really matters. You have to go into a lot of detail around this and if it doesn’t feel right, you won’t move.”

It’s the evening of August 9, 2018; the final hours of the transfer window are drawing to a close. Social media is ablaze as some clubs haven’t attracted the players they were linked with. First on the blame list is the board’s reluctance to spend enough cash. Next it’s the player being “too greedy” and the insults that come with it.

But beyond the speculation, what are the real reasons players turn down clubs? Mick McGuire is a former player turned agent and he says most players don’t even get the chance to reject a move; clubs still have the biggest say despite what we’re led to believe about player power. “With Financial Fair Play and belts tightening everywhere, especially in the Championship where owners quickly lose money if promotion doesn’t happen, clubs are desperate to stop their best players leaving. So they put huge price tags on them, which puts other clubs off. Many players don’t even know there’s interest in them.”

opportunity arises. McGuire gives the example of one of his clients, Craig Gardner, originally from the Midlands. Having played his entire career at Villa and Birmingham, he wanted to stay in the Premier League after Blues were relegated. His only option was to transfer to Sunderland but he commuted, keeping his family home in Birmingham knowing he’d have a choice of clubs close to home as he got older. He later joined West Brom and is now back at Birmingham.

If you support a team outside these major areas you’ll know the frustration that comes with seeing potential players reject your club for so-called brighter lights. But McGuire

One EFL player I spoke to, who wishes to remain anonymous, told me: “I’ve rejected clubs because I didn’t believe in the manager. I turned down a big club because the manager kept saying how lucky I was to be in his office. Another gave my wife the creeps. Neither of them lasted a year at those clubs. You can take all the money you like but if you choose the wrong manager it can fall apart very quickly.”

Reassuringly, he’s as insecure as the rest of us about our jobs. “I’ve no idea what I’ll do when I retire so believe me, when I’m turning down a club it’s only because I have to think about a whole lifetime of not playing any more. I just hope people think about that the next time they rant on Twitter.”

Paul Buller

Scenes from Football History

No 324

The average playing career lasts only eight years and with around 20 per cent of professional players released on free transfers each summer, they have to make astute choices to get the best out of their careers. “Some players will reject moves and stay at their club because they’re on better money, despite not playing, but only because they believe they still have a chance there,” says McGuire. “Not many genuinely want to sit and do nothing. A player will not turn down a club if they have the opportunity to play football. That’s their number one consideration.”

Players across all age groups often reject a club if it’s away from where they’ve grown up or settled, especially in big conurbations where they can move between local clubs without upheaval until an exceptional




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