The View From 116

The long drawn our transfer saga is finally over and former AjaxCT man Keagan Dolly is finally a Montpellier player.Montpellier player. Dolly’s career is clearly on an upward trajectory and I am sure everyone at AjaxCT is delighted for him. It does not seem that his recent employers and supporters at Mamelodi Sundowns feel the same, however, given the efforts made to derail the transfer and the disgruntled messages left across social media by unhappy fans. Sundowns clearly made mistakes with the player’s contract and – let’s be honest – embarrassed themselves with their actions regarding the buy-out clause. A written contract is binding and a verbal agreement is not binding – in any walk of life.

How would any of us feel if our bank phoned us and told us our written bond agreement or car loan documentation was actually too low and the repayments would actually be twice as high, despite both parties signing the original document? Dolly is lucky that the French club put up with this nonsense, but it is at least a sign of how much they value him. Assuming he gets a regular place in the squad, he is now set to become the South African footballer playing at the highest standard of football in the world.

For those that constantly accuse AjaxCT of being a selling club there is much too learn from this sorry saga. Do those people that criticise AjaxCT when they sell a player really want us to behave like Sundowns? This reminds us again that all clubs are selling clubs and all players move. They may be the champions of Africa and the richest club in South Africa, but Sundowns are just one more link in the football food chain. There is always somebody bigger and more powerful. If Dolly can excel at Montpellier in a few seasons time when he reaches his prime age as a footballer a really big fish may come along. Montpellier won the French league in 2012 and have been participants in the Champions League. Their players get noticed by the likes of Bayern Munich, Chelsea and Real Madrid. They produced Eric Cantona and Olivier Giroud – could Keagan Dolly be next?

The football food chain goes on. It is how you manage it on behalf of your club that matters. Denying it exists is not an option.

Sundowns greed and lack of interest in the players welfare was there for all to see. No wonder Dolly’s father did not want his son to go there in the first place. Sundown’s actions would also have been detrimental to their own club if the transfer had broken down. In the long term maybe the next generation of young players with high ambitions will think twice about signing for them having witnessed this debacle. Once a player wants to leave for a bigger link in the football food chain and a firm offer is received, it is time to move on. This is why clubs and agents negotiate written contracts that enable the process to proceed effectively. If every club behaved like Sundowns did with Dolly’s contract the system would grind to a halt.

To the club, what matters is how much you make from a transfer and how much value the player brings to the team while they are there. Sundowns only got just over a season from Dolly, but look at what they won and how much they have received. Why behave with such a lack of class? For Sundowns, AjaxCT and all other clubs it does not matter if you sell players regularly as long as the club is making money, investing it wisely in new talent and the players are contributing while they are there. This is how the majority of football clubs work worldwide.

We all know that Rivaldo Coetzee will depart at some point. There is already rumoured interest from the French league. When he does go – as with previous departures – I would expect AjaxCT not to invent new clauses in his contract and embarrass themselves by doing all that they can to prevent him moving. There will be moans that Ajax are selling again, but the reality is that the money raised will keep the academy rolling and new signings coming in. Coetzee will have played his part in a side that reached two cup finals in two seasons and will have chalked up around 80-100 games for the club. Seems like everyone is winning here.

Some of the AjaxCT critics seem to think these players should commit their lives to the club and so ensure a stream of titles and cups. It is a nice thought, but it is not realistic. There is a strong link between the salaries that clubs pay to players and the success of teams. It holds true in leagues all around the world. We know that AjaxCT pay peanuts – thanks to Keagan Dolly’s father. In fact, given the lack of crowds and major sponsors all PSL clubs pay peanuts compared to those up north with the big sponsorships and rich owners. That is why players want to go there. To win titles and cups on a regular basis you have to pay big, and there is clearly just not that much money outside the big three. Given this restriction, developing, selling and replacing players is the only way to operate. The key is managing them while you have them to be competitive and challenge for honours. It is a difficult balance, but one that AjaxCT seem to be handling reasonably well at the moment. We are well equipped to develop another Rivaldo Coetzee. Welcome to our world Mamelodi Sundowns. Can you develop another Keagan Dolly or do you need help again?

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