STEPHEN Thompson, the Dundee United chairman, felt a “dangerous precedent” has been set after yesterday’s tribunal ruling ordered they must pay in excess of £200,000 to Rangers for acquiring the services of Charlie Telfer following his controversial departure from Ibrox in the summer.
A lengthy SPFL tribunal got under way first thing in the morning as it met at Hampden to adjudicate over the final fee, and finally reached its conclusion late in the afternoon when United learned they had to pay £204,000 to the Glasgow club, marking the end of what had been something of a saga surrounding the 19-year-old
Telfer took the decision to leave first club Rangers on expiration of his contract, and instead opted for a move to Tayside to join Jackie McNamara’s Premiership side in June when his contract had come to an end.
Under rules governing the movement of players under the age of 23, Rangers were due compensation and, with both clubs unable to decide on a fee for the player, the matter was then heard by an independent three-man panel in Glasgow.
From the outset, Rangers were adamant they were entitled to six years’ cash for the player between the age of 12 to 18, while United maintained the Scottish Championship side should only receive money to cover two years since their liquidation in 2012.
CONNECT WITH THE SCOTSMAN
• Subscribe to our daily newsletter (requires registration) and get the latest news, sport and business headlines delivered to your inbox every morning
The Tayside club were understood to be prepared to fork out in the region of £100,000 but were taken aback on learning they would have to stump up around twice that amount.
As he digested the news, Thompson’s ire appeared to have been raised and he took time out to issue a stark warning to parents of all young Scottish players to “choose their clubs very, very carefully”, in light of the ruling.
Telfer had made only one substitute appearance for Rangers in a competitive match which lasted no more than 20 minutes in League 1 when victory was already assured.
Since then, though, he has gone on to make his mark at United with some impressive midfield displays and only last week was named the SPFL’s Young Player of the Month for November.
Thompson, who’s understood to be angered by events, believes other clubs will be put off from attempting to acquire the best young players in this country because of the threat of high levels of compensation. He said: “This judgment in our opinion will have a serious impact on the freedom of movement of some young players through no fault of their own.
“Today’s decision protects clubs even in the event that those clubs are responsible for players’ careers being stifled at a critical stage in their development.
“It will restrict the opportunities for some of our most promising young players to gain regular first-team football and act as a deterrent to any Scottish football club which wishes to take such players on.
“Today’s decision is completely at odds with the stated aims of our football authorities in respect of encouraging our most promising young players to play first-team football at the highest level.
“It highlights the need for parents and young players to choose their clubs very, very carefully.
“Today’s judgment now sets a dangerous precedent that means some of our most promising young players will be deprived of the opportunity to secure a contract at a club where they have been offered a genuine first-team opportunity and to improve their earnings purely because the compensation has been set at a ridiculously prohibitive level.
“The sum awarded to Rangers is almost seven times the amount offered to the player under the terms of his new contract with the Glasgow club.”
United, to their credit, have a proud history in years gone by of developing the careers of players such as Scotland defender Andy Robertson, Sporting Lisbon’s Ryan Gauld, Stuart Armstrong, Gary Mackay-Steven, Craig Conway, Paul Dixon, Johnny Russell and David Goodwillie and place much emphasis on helping players fulfil their full potential, whether it’s after they have come through the youth system, or on the back of a move to Tannadice.
Yesterday’s ruling is binding at SPFL level which means United now have to pay the sum within the next 28 days.
SCOTSMAN TABLET AND IPHONE APPS