Written by 26may1989
The rules say that a club wanting to acquire a player must get the consent of the player’s current club before beginning a discussion of any sort with the player:
“Any Club which by itself, by any of its Officials, by any of its Players, by its Agent, by any other Person on its behalf or by any other means whatsoever makes an approach either directly or indirectly to a Contract Player except as permitted by either Rule K.1.2 or Rule K.2 shall be in breach of these Rules …” (Rule K.3 of the Rules of the Premier League).
Couldn’t be clearer (and it’s backed up by FIFA regulations and regulations governing agents): any approach, direct or indirect, is verboten.
But despite the clarity of the rules, Arsène Wenger said this week that: “it is a rule that has to be reviewed. It’s not really respected.” And you can understand where Wenger’s coming from when, with delicious timing, the very next day Patrice Evra showed he felt no compunction in openly demonstrated that the rules mean nothing to him:
“Of course I’ve talked a lot with [Nasri] in the holiday and also when we met up for friendly games with France at the end of the season. I told him how great it is to play for United and how important it would be for him to become of the biggest players in the world. … I just told him how good it would be for him coming here. He will have a nice welcome, and I can help as well because I’m French. …. I would definitely tell him to come to United. Definitely. I made that little joke saying that he’s a prince now but if he wants to be the king then he has to join United. But that’s the reality, and I’ve told him that. I said, ‘If you want to win trophies you have to come here.’ …. I just told him the truth.”
Could there be a more obvious breach of the rules?
We feel righteously bitter about yet another no-mark blatantly unsettling one of our best players, a feeling that is made more acute by the feeling of fragility and vulnerability at Arsenal this summer. But here’s a thought: perhaps the prohibition on tapping-up should be scrapped.
It is often said that a law that is routinely broken is a bad law. And it is clear that football’s rules against tapping-up are broken every day of the week. Gary Lineker wrote a good article back in 2006 (see http://www.telegraph.co.uk/sport/football/2346447/Tapping-up-isnt-illegal-so-why-have-this-stupid-rule.html), explaining how frequent tapping-up is, and how in some ways it is not only inevitable, but necessary. After all, there is an air of unreality in the idea that the would-be buying club approaches a player’s current club, and both then embark on a full-blown negotiation process, without any idea whether the player would join the new club. Similarly, a club that wants to sell may be reluctant to dilute its bargaining position by openly stating at the outset that it’s looking to offload a player.
But regardless of the rights and wrongs of the rules (and believe me, I get as wound up as anyone when I see the latest comments from Xavi, Puyol, Rossell, Ferguson, Mancini or Evra), if the rules are ignored more often than they are observed, what’s the point? And, while Arsenal may well be relative angels in this area, I’m sure our club breaches the rules too: does anyone seriously think Chamakh didn’t know he had an Arsenal contract in the bag before he began to wind down his contract at Bordeaux? And how would he have known? Because someone told him Wenger wanted him. Or more accurately, told his agent.
So, rather than perpetuate this torture of waiting for the rules to be enforced every time the vultures circle, let’s be more honest and scrap the rules against tapping-up, and just allow conversations to flow in a more grown-up manner. That way, we can just get on with hating Evra for being an odious little nerk.
Very good point ’89.
Glad you raised the Chamakh issue, and it calls into question our angelic status. I have to say that if I was Manager of another club, the very last person I would want a call from is Arsene. Openly and fairly approach a club. Offer 10p and a bag of crisps to their £10m rated star performer. Continually haggle for the duration of the transfer widow before having your last minute offer of 20p and a family pack turned down. Now that is unsettling a player. And above board.
Harsh, but fair.
Spot on, 26.
Bring it all out into the open (some of it is, already) and then we’ll see the true picture.
The worst case of tapping up I can remember is the Cashley affair with Mourinho and Kenyon at the meeting just days before a big game against manyoo.
I love “odious little nerk”. I can almost see and hear Norman Stanley Fletcher saying it right now.
I think there is a slight difference in approach there. Wenger tried to buy Chamakh for 4 million and Bordeaux wanted 7 million. It was the board of the french club that went public on this, to try and get other interested parties to enter a bidding war.
This is a case where the player told the club that he would not be signing a new contract, so they did what they felt they had to do to get the best return. As it worked out Chamakh wanted to come to us, so their attempts to get more money failed.
Micky, do you think AW’s ‘bids’ are revealed by Arsenal Football Club or by the club at the target of the bid?
If it’s the latter, then it’s the target club that’s unsettling the player.
People sometimes forget that lawlessness could be very dangerous. The passion in football has reached an unprecedented height and some people can kill to protect their passion. I remember how some fans have committed suicide watching their teams lose some important games; who says such a fan cannot see Patrice Evra or Xavi and drive a knife through their hearts. Laws are meant to protect the people and the lack of it is anarchy which can lead to death. I am particularly worried that Sepp Blatter has turned deaf ears to some very serious isues and injustices during his tenure. There seems to be some favored clubs and players and they can never go wrong in the sight of Blatter. A stitch in time saves nine, Blatter should act now before an angry fan kills the likes of Evra and Xavi.
I am not sure it matters, but “bids” there certainly are and they appear generally unrealistic (given the mad world we live in).
Glad you picked up the reference to Porridge! That’s one of my fave programmes of all time. Fletcher is a hero, even if he was meant to be a Spurs fan from my neck of the woods (Muswell Hill/Wood Green).
Just to underline how routinely the tapping-up rules are ignored, I saw on the Goonerholic site that FIFA’s own website has been carrying Xavi’s latest “Cesc to Barca” quotes – so even the game’s regulator thinks the rule against tapping-up is irrelevant.
Victor are you alright?
Porridge is one of my favourites, too.
I remember the episode where they pretend his wife is having an affair so he can have some time off for compassionate leave and then goes to watch spurs on the Saturday afternoon. I thought it was playing to the stereotype that most spuds fans are criminals. 🙂
My neck of the woods was Edmonton, by the way, well into spuds territory. Edmonton used to be quite decent in those days before it turned into a dumping ground for the poor and socially deprived.
“Edmonton used to be quite decent”? You must be older than me! 😉
That episode, with the pretend affair, is an absolute classic: the last few lines were somethng like “Yes, poor me, I had the weekend in my nice crisp bed, with my nice crisp wife…”. I haven’t got it right, but was an excellent conclusion to a superb episode!
Sadly, we live in a world where the ‘witch hunt’ of Arsenal is fair game for all. Xavi has no respect for us or anyone else for that matter, and even though he was warned about his comments on Monday, continues today with his Cesc love – in. It is of course disgusting that we can be accused of kidnap and denying a poor young Catalan lad his birth rite. It is however unbelieveable that Barca continue to dictate everything from the fee to the length the transfer saga will go on. We all knew that Cesc would return to mama Barca’s breast, but the unsavoury way it is being handled is both embarrassing and insulting. Tapping-up is illegal, yet Evra, Mancini and the rest of the Barca squad let rip whenever they want – without punishment. I wonder what would happen if we dared to tap up Messi?
Well Done 26May Good Topical article,Nicely constructed. Unfortunately doomed to be a cry in the dark.
Today’s world, not just football has no time for honour or honouring. Whether it be contract, handshake or word, witness the recent antics of politicians,journalists and indeed the wrong arm of the law. Devil take the hindmost. Pecuniary advantage rules.
Ooo err, this is rather depressing, but on a positive note, if there is any truth in what Victor Adeyemi says then perhaps Septic Bladder losing some ears or any other apendage after a vicious assault would certainly lighten the mood.
Not just Arsenal, but there is an enormous lack of “links and sources” during this window, or should I be reading something other than just AA?
Very interesting, 26, and topical too. 🙂
Football has some very well intentioned but anarchic rules peculiar only to UEFA and FIFA controlled clubs, and not necessarily subject to the scrutiny of the wider world.
FIFA is intrinsically corrupt, it would seem, and can be discounted in terms of righteousness or justice, should you seek it there!
UEFA have their own agenda and dance to their own choreographed tune, masterminded by Bladder’s successor in waiting, Monsieur Platini.
With Platini, he seems to be engaged in his version of ‘football social engineering’, the latest version of which is the FFP rule in a well intentioned attempt to level the playing field, so to speak.
My own view is that this rule, like others, will also bite the dust. On this very site, some months ago, I prophesied that one or more of the ‘spendy’ clubs would circumvent the rules by entering into a dubious commercial deal with an associated company or individual, and up popped Citeh to make me look like a true blue prophet of doom.
Earlier I had suggested that a club could also circumvent the same rule by converting outstanding loans into a stake in the clubs share capital. Thank you Mr Abramovich for confirming my fears.
Other rules have fallen foul of EU regulations, such as the restriction of players’ freedom of movement (the Bosman Ruling). Hence all the concern to try and stop players walking away at the end of their contracts (Nasri) by extending their contracts 2 years before the end date of the current contract.
Back to your tapping up rule debate.
Outside of football it is perfectly legal for a business to solicit or ‘head hunt’ top professionals, and others, from rival concerns in an attempt to get them to switch employment. It is normal for all of us to look for better or more rewarding posts or jobs elsewhere and any effort to restrict that right would certainly fall foul of the Human Rights legislation.
And there is the problem. UEFA and FIFA are probably well aware that any attempt to enforce their rules on ‘tapping up’ probably would not stand up in the European Courts of Justice, and rather than lose face in that way, they pay lip service to clubs, such as Arsenal, who are angry that other clubs are trying/succeeding in enticing their players away by allowing them to quote the breach of the relevant football regulation, while actually turning a blind eye to the perpetrators.
It is a stupid rule not based on or supported by European Statute. Get rid of it! That way every club will be in the same position and it will stop what has become tedious whingeing!
Xavi deserves to die
I’m talking about when Edmonton was mainly fields! 🙂
26…. Back when I walked down Folly Lane and fell into the deep part of the river Ching. 🙂
That must have been around the time Davy Crockett and I were liberating New Mexico, just never got round to liberating Edmonton! 🙂
Haha, dandan, I didn’t even know there was a river Ching.
Though you think I would’ve guessed!
I used to play golf at Chingford GC and remembered one of the local rules was that you always had to wear something red. For some reason red has always been my favourite colour so it was never a problem. Must have been hell for the spuds though.
RA, did you wear a beaver hat, too?
Chas, you seem to know too much about my beaver habits!! 🙂
What have you done Chas, you should know how excited Red Arse becomes at the mention of “beaver”…… 😉
Never mind about my beaver fetish, 26, what do you think of my scrumptious response to your cheeky little Post? 🙂
Very interesting read 26
Lots of points that hadn’t crossed my mind, I like that.
I think this is the compelling sentence.
“It is often said that a law that is routinely broken is a bad law.”
The rule, as I think you suggest, is impossible to enforce. The only rationale I can think of for it to remain is that is still acts as a minor deterrent. Many people flaunt it but if it wasn’t there people would take the piss.
Good read, 26may… well written and well argued. on a completely different note, I find myself somewhat excited by the transfer murmuring. I know that is a fools’ game, but Lucas Biglia looks the kind of combative midfielder that could add some fight in the middle of the park for us; Mata (who Marca claims is close), we all know, would be a good replacement for Nasri, who I then assume would be sold. I’ve been thinking about it, and I can’t see Nasri staying. Besides the money, I just can’t see him getting the playmaker position he covets. Even if Cesc leaves (and i’m hoping he stays), Wilshire is a much better fit for that position.
Anyhow, excuse me all if you wanted to avoid spurious transfer talk today. I couldn’t help myself.
OK, and I’m back.
RA: I liked your little diatribe at 12:19pm (early lunch was it??). I’m pretty sure your main point, that the tapping-up rule likely contravenes EU and European human rights law, is right. But it’s also worth remembering that contract and employment law is not unfettered, either at the EU or national level, and there are accepted special contract arrangements already for sport and especially football. Were the tapping-up rules challenged, the footy authorities may therefore be able to argue that regulating contact in this way is a component of contract stability and so is legal. But there is certainly a very good argument that the tapping-up rules may not be legal.
To me, Michel Platini is a bit like football bureaucracy’s Theo Walcott: flawed but offers more than some think. The fact he’s got Financial Fairplay Regs even this far shows him to be far superior to any of the other scumbags who’ve had his position or the like before. But as many of us have said previously, it’s all about the enforcement of the Regs. The Chelsea example (capitalisation of the debt owed to Abramovich) was always going to work, because it happened early enough. But the position on City’s “sponsorship” (ha ha!) agreements with Etihad Airlines, and the numerous other, lesser known commercial arrangements they have with entities ultimately owned or controlled by the Abu Dhabi state, is not so straightforward. Yes, someone was always going to try it on, but if UEFA have the cajones to use their power (big if), they have the ability to declare City’s Etihad naming rights deal (and possibly other commercial arrangements) to be in violation of the FFP Regs. Before we prejudge, let’s wait and see what they do on that.
Enough of the lawyer talk….
On California’s transfer speculation, I still think Nasri won’t be sold. But I have some sympathy for your point that Wilshere may be better suited to stepping up to the playmaker role in any event (not that I want Cesc to go).
Here’s a thought: if there were no rule against tapping-up, perhaps comments from blabbermouths like Xavi and Evra would get less coverage and so be less of an issue. My thinking is that the press love a bit of Wenger-baiting, because they know he gets stroppy about people breaking the rules. Well, if there’s no rule to be broken, Wenger can’t be provoked on the issue and so the interest of the journos may reduce.
OK, that’s probably not right, and is probably a bit paranoid.
You obviously have a point about journos loving a bit of Wenger baiting and as you say if there was no rule then that would stop.
How about the rule remains for clubs but not for players; the player part seems to me as being unenforceable.
To put the case for Evra it is so easy for him to say that a fellow countryman at Arsenal phoned him and said I am thinking about moving what is it like at manu. To which Evra replies: Rooney is a jerk and Ferguson is a wanker but I obviously can’t say that in public so if anyone asks say I said that life up here is fantastic.
The point is that players must phone other players to find out what life is like at a club that has shown some interest.
26may – you sound like a lawyer! I never thought about it like that – ‘a law that is routinely broken is a bad law’, but like it a lot, very true.
The reason tapping is annoying at best and fecking infuriating in Cesc’s case, is that it unsettles the player and the rest of the team, and therefore I don’t think the rule should be scraped, no sir. It should be tightened if anything else and the culprits ought to be severly punished, shot dead in Evra’s case, that’s my opinion.
Great post, thank you 26
Shooting’s too good for him, Evonne, how about a more traditional punishment: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hung,_drawn_and_quartered?
I understand the sentiments being expressed here but the issue laying at the base of this matter is MONEY.
The tapping up we all get cross about is the reported (media) comments made by Evra, Xavi and so on. Annoying but ineffectual!
I’m sure you understand that the real tapping up goes unreported. Evra, Xavi and the like are simply currying favour with their own fans/audience by opening their big mouths, knowing they will not suffer any penalty.
No, the real tap up experts, Mourhino/Ferguson etc do things very differently, very sneakily, stealthily and only get rumbled by accident (Mourhino/Cole — for which he was fined — paid by Abramovich?), or by players who gormlessly later reveal all in a book (Stam — for which he was transferred, as a punishment).
The players want Money, their agents want Money, and opposing managers are happy to oblige by paying up in exchange for improving their teams.
Realistically? It has always gone on, and always will.
I think one of the things I like about you is that, despite the usual perception of your profession, you remain unfailingly open minded and lacking in cynicism. Says much about you as a decent person, unlike me.
Holding fire on the likely outcome of the inevitable machinations of clubs circumventing the FFP rules, you are prepared to give Platini a chance to follow thru’ and not prejudging him is a good example.
I am not taking issue with the man himself, tho’ I do not like what he seems to represent in football, but I believe he will be outgunned by the vested interests, and their acolytes elsewhere in UEFA and FIFA, that he will inevitably come up against.
I still like you tho’! 🙂
I’m curious how all this ‘tapping up’ could possible unsettle Cesc? Does he need to read the papers to know what Xavi, or his best friend, Picque, is thinking? I would expect Cesc to be the calmest man in this whole drama. I am totally convinced by 26may’s post that the tapping up rules are unworkable. What is unfortunate is that there should be norms and understandings about how and to what extent you actually do engage in it. But those seem to missing.
There are also very good reasons why standard employment laws don’t work well in Football. It has to do with the interdependencies that building a club requires. The bias these days seems to be towards allowing players more liberty to move as they like. The problem, of course, is that that creates a disincentive for clubs to invest long term in the development of players and teams — which is the one real way teams can compete without simply outspending everyone else. When the top talent is free to move, it will naturally go join the other top talent, reinforcing the oligarchy that already exists in both the PL and in Europe. That leads to less competition, although it does lead to a few super teams — we get to see RM play Barcelona a few times a year — but very little competitiveness over all.
‘Unsettling’ a player really means making it known that you are prepared to pay him more that he currently gets. I use the term ‘gets’ – not necessarily earns.
He then ‘unsettles’ his club by agitating for more dosh or a transfer abd away we go.
All the clubs are complicit in this and the only ‘losers’ are the fans, who see that their heroes have feet of clay.
Cynical? Moi? Yep, definitely! 🙂
California Gunner – good point, but: what Cesc knows and what the media report is 2 separate things altogether. I would not be surprised if he was shocked to read that he supposedly told Xabi he was unhappy at Arsenal. We had a long discussion about the hacks a couple of weeks ago and I hightly recommend Rocky’s post on the subject
Players also read blogs and gossips, and it might make an awful reading for Cesc to see so-called fans views on the subject
I’ve learnt a lot from today’s post and the following comments but what I have come to realise from all that has been said is that comments from Evra and Xavi carry no weight, they are meaningless serving only for journalists to bait Wenger with.
Just read the Lineker article…..very good.
Great Post LD+TH+DB! I have not got much to add to what has been a thorough and balanced debate today, by the regulars as well as some relatively new AA quality bloggers.
I agree with London that tapping up by clubs should remain regulated – and punished if stepped out of line – but that silly comments made by lobotomised flower fairies such as Evra should not be subjected to the tapping-up rule. Although Evra’s comments can be irritating (I am sure he would top a poll for most hated players as voted by Gooners), he is also making a real fool of himself by being so disrespectful to our club. Sooner or later he will get his just deserves.
So TA, hung drawn and quartered it is then for Evra 🙂
Oh gone on then TA, I’ll buy it. Who, or what are LD+TH+DB? 🙂
Chaz, I really enjoyed the photo-video you posted yesterday. It had a certain timelessness and warmth about it, and it really made me want to watch a live Arsenal match again. Great stuff 😛
Instant Karma’s gonna get you,
Gonna knock you right on the head,
You better get yourself together,
Pretty soon you’re gonna be dead,
What in the world you thinking of,
Laughing in the face of love,
What on earth you tryin’ to do,
It’s up to you, yeah you.
I am ducking as I say this, don’t know if anyone has already mentioned this but Arsenal tap up evey transfer. Sagna, Nasri, Vermarlen, Koscielny and Gervinho.
Stage one – player comes out and magically says, ‘I would love to join Arsenal’.
Stage two – players club say ‘we haven’t had any contact from Arsenal, first we have heard of it”
Stage three – one of our players says publically that the player might be a good addition. In Gervinho’s case it was Djourou.
Stage four – Wenger says ‘we must not talk to much’
Stage five – selling club admit negotiations due to unsettled player.
Stage six – selling club reluctantly agree.
Do we honestly think that all of those players just suddenly went ‘I’d love to play for Arsenal’ , not one of six or seven club including Arsenal. Just Arsenal.
We tapped them up. We are just very subtle when we do it.
Moral Of the story is that if we are going to sign anybody, watch for the player who out of nowhere suddenly wants to join Arsenal. He has been tapped up.
Everyone does it, though the levels Barca have stooped to in recent year, players and staff briefing against Arsenal on a daily basis are unacceptable.
If someone contact my agency and offered twice my wage, I’m damm sure I would be at my job by the end of the week.
RA: add up the shirt numbers…
Agreed. Here is a sentence from my 6:47;
— “All the clubs are complicit in this and the only ‘losers’ are the fans, who see that their heroes have feet of clay.”
On your own? Don’t think so.
TA, I have got to go — quick — what wonderful algorithm were you referring to with your 7:18; — “Great Post LD+TH+DB!”
So I was on the wrong trail when I tried Latin/Roman numerals.
The LD was OK but TD – uh oh, D Yes, but B uh oh! 🙂
Adding up alphabet letters is soooooo non accountanty! 🙂
Anyway, I won’t toss and turn all night trying to decode 26’s new name! What have I started? 🙂
Thanks for a very well written post, and also to all the excellent posts it has given rise to (Redders’ 12.19 more or less reflects my view).
Busy day so must do a quick ‘hello goodbye’ but will try to look back in later.
I am not an expert, but could it not simply be:
1. Arsenal formally approaches club for a player
2a. Club gets in touch with particular player to let him know about Arsenal’s interest
2b. Press finds out and writes about it
3. Player is asked for a response to a potential move to the mighty Arse
4. Player is flattered
5. Club’s player tells Arsenal player is not for sale
6. Rumour was created and now needs to be milked to oblivion by the lovely redtops…
Good one Jamie
You forgot Chamakh, that was just blatent tapping up.
Hmmmm another good argument TA.
TA – the player always says he wants to join before the selling club say they have never had a bid. The selling club could be lying but in every time?
We tap up the agent. The reason Barca do it in public for our players is because Henry and Fab4 are both with Darren Dein who they know the can tap up when it comes to Arsenals players. So they do it In public.
I did forget Chamakh, that was more of a smack than a tap 🙂
I meant to say Dein is probably someone they cant tap up as easily.
Jamie. you are probably right that we tap up as much as anybody else, but it must come down to semantics as well. If Arsenal would do it all by the book, they would first get in touch with the club to find out whether they would be open to selling one of their players, and not make an offer straightaway. The process as per my previous post ensues. The club would not be denying contact by saying ‘they never received a bid’, but it can read like that to us.
Northbanker @ 9:56,
Thank you for your comment. I have no idea why it was held up in moderation – our policy is to let everyone on and only remove comments that do not conform with the ethos on AA, your point was perfectly valid. I hope you come on again.
Total, I thought you’d mucked it up with “LD+TH+DB”, thinking it was Diaby plus Henry plus Bergkamp. It was only when I engaged my brain that I realised the No2 was the utterly legendary Lee Dixon, not the injury-prone, will-he-won’t-he-succeed Abou Diaby, and that it was meant to be LD after all. Respect.
And RA, thank you for your 6:22pm!
26, spot on: it’s the ‘marauding’ right back 😉
Evening all, bit of a day and missed some top conversations.
Great post from 26 to start things off although I must admit I got hung up on interpreting the broken law=bad law as meaning legalise drugs and prostitution, but that’s probably more about me than the post.
I am shocked that anyone can think we have ever done anything wrong ever. Blasphemy!
Going off piste, I must admit, I am a bit of a libertarian about things like drug policy. But that’s a discussion for another day. And prostitution is already legal in England and Wales; it’s things like kerb crawling, soliciting, pimping, keeping a brothel etc that are illegal.
The papers are full of this potential Mata deal……..can’t see it at all myself.
For goodness sake don’t make any commitments about dietry suppliments regarding the Mata affair.
Morning to you both London and 26.
You made a comment about Platini yesterday. I remember at the CL final in Paris passing the executive entrance and there were loads of fans lining the carpet. I assumed celebrity watchers. Then Platini appeared to a hail of abuse from Gooners. Do we have/had reason for this?
There was a time when Platini thought it was big to try and belittle Wenger; he gave a whole serious of interviews which all included condescending jibes but I am not certain this is just a guess as to why he got stick in Paris.
All sounds good reason to have a go!
Which “most likely” camp are you in regarding Cesc and Nasri?
Does anyone know whether there is truth in dressing room unrest stories from last season, and who were the culprits. Would I be right in thinking that Nasri is not the most popular of individuals?
New post ………
[…] conscious and unconscious tool at their disposal to unsettle the player. It would be hard to prove that Barcelona have broken any laws and indeed they may well not have. Their actions definitely violate another of those “unspoken […]
Nasri is in the last year of his contract so is free to negotiate with anybody so the only problem I have with Evra’s comments are that it is none of his business and he is a pr*ck. Fabregas case is blatant tapping up but everybody is on Barca’s side. How many big games in the last 4 years have their opponents finished with 10 men? Arsenal made a decent bid for Chamakh and were legally free to negotiate as you can when the player has less than 12 months on their contract. If Fabregas wants to go to Barca he can put in a transfer request Arsenal will tell Barcelona what we want and if they pay that deal done if not go away. I really think Arsenal should bypass FIFA/UEFA and sue Barca through European courts because no impartial court could rule in Barca’s favour.
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