Date: 17th February 2009 at 11:49am
Written by:

How many times in the last few years have Aberdeen lost players for peanuts or nothing at all because they`re contract is expiring or expired? Kevin McNaugton, Michael Hart, Chris Clark, Barry Nicholson; all good players, yet the dons have gained little by the way of compensation for the loss of any of them.

And it all comes down to the fact that when a player has six months or less left on his contract, he is free to talk th other clubs and arrange a pre-contract, whereby he will sign for them upon the expiry of his contract. Last season Aberdeen lost three key players because of this. The first two Chris Clark and Michael Hart left in January, (to Plymouth and Preston respectively), together they made Aberdeen only £300k. This was because if Aberdeen did not accept these bids they would lose the pair in the summer for nothing, as was the case with Barry Nicholson. If Preston and Plymouth had wanted to sign these players when they had 3 years, rather than 6 months, on their contract they would have had to pay AFC, considerably more to acquire the players` services. The key then to keeping our best players at the club, or at least getting a decent amount selling them, is to ensure they have long contracts.

This is easier said than done of course, though we have done well in retaining both Lee Miller and Zander Diamond in recent times. I hope Scott Severin decides to stay but at the moment Aberdeen are barely in the position of power, as the situation accurately resembles the aforementioned with Seve having less than 6 months to run on his current contract.

Contract length also has to be carefully considered when signing new players. Younger players with potential or players who guaranteed to be solid first team regulars should be offered longer deals while those who are injury prone, ageing or merely squad players should be given shorter deals. With this in mind, Tommy Wright should have been given a 1 year deal incase, (as has happened), he struggles for fitness. This way he cannot continue to take a wage from Aberdeen while lying on the treatment table for 3 years. On the other hand Charlie Mulgrew, young, athletic, realising much of his early potential should be on a longer deal than the 2 year contract he signed in July. In 12 months time Mulgrew will be free to speak to clubs, not a particularly reassuring thought.

With contacts hopefully high on Jimmy`s priority list, he must seize the initiative and tie down Scott Severin. He should then take a long look at whether he needs Mair and whether or not Young has anything at all to offer the team.