The Jason Shackell sale
I wouldn’t say the sale of Jason Shackell has divided opinion – I think almost everyone wanted him to stay. People have tried to rationalise it and some are reserving judgement until all our business is concluded; but there is no doubt it hurts to sell your captain for what appears to be a modest fee.
To me, there are several details of the whole saga that don’t quite add up, or at least have explanations that aren’t public knowledge.
The first simple question is: why did a host of Championship clubs decide to pitch in with low-ish bids for our captain. What prompted newly promoted Charlton to think “let’s try and sign Derby’s captain and Ramspace player of the year for more or less what they paid for him”.
Conspiracy theorists may point to last summer. Barnsley signed Shackell for £500k, he had a good season as captain; they sell him for a small profit; he pockets a signing-on fee and better contract. Familiar? I’m speculating here but this has whiff of agent activity/contract clauses/gentlemen’s agreements which may or may not include things like: “have a
good season and we’ll renegotiate your contract (or sell you)” or “if we get any bids above £x”. As I say, speculation on my part but something other than Shackell’s good form seemed to have invited enquiries.
There has been a lot criticism aimed at the board over this one. A line I have no time for is “selling our best players again”. When was the last time we sold anyone against our will or had anyone good enough to sell? Hulse is an example people give but we actually declined four times what we got for him. Commons? We might have held him to his contract but we hardly cashed-in. A group of Billionaires who have already spent millions aren’t interested in splitting a few hundred grand profit between them.
The decision to sell Shackell seems to be entirely Clough’s although the need to be self-sufficient in the transfer market is of course the Board’s instruction. But why Shackell, especially with Barker missing the whole season? Clough has said we have received bids for a variety of players so it’s not as if Shacks is our only asset. The sale seems more strategic than necessary.
This is where the “reserve judgement brigade” are firmly camped (including myself). Clough obviously has a replacement lined up as well as a couple more players he thinks will improve us. If he gets as much for his million as he did with Fielding, Ward and Robinson last summer, then we might look back on this as a good piece of business. Even so, deciding that Shackell is the man to trade is a massive call by Clough (as C Spaceram has said) and one he can expect to be judged by every time we concede a goal.
Finally the fee, widely reported to be £1.1m. Although Glick said we’d previously turned down at least that, the figure seems to be sticking, so it’s fair to assume it’s not far off. Given the costs of buying and selling a player (agent fee’s, loyalty bonus for not requesting transfer, signing-on fee’s etc.), we wouldn’t have made much profit. The interesting thing for me is that Leicester and Cardiff, who have serious money, didn’t want to pay the extra few £100k. Were they serious bids or just testing the water because they’d heard he was available? Either way, this doesn’t seem an arm-twisting bid, so we can only conclude that it was a conscious decision to trade rather than a “too good to turn down” scenario. We’re not averse to trading (see our piece “When is the right time to sell”) but even so, circa £1.1m is hard to swallow.
So, a sudden end to an impressive Rams career for Jason Shackell.Burnley will be happy; Shackell will be happy (a four year contract for a player soon to turn 29 – how Paul Green must look on with envy); and Clough doesn’t sound to devastated. As for the rest of us…well, I, for one, am reserving judgement for now (whilst feeling slightly gutted).