The 22-year-old had been at Fir Park for a decade, making 129 first-team appearances and featuring in the Scottish Cup and League Cup finals two seasons ago. He also faced Mexico and Peru for Alex McLeish’s Scotland side last year.
He joined MLS outfit Columbus Crew as a free agent in June but was immediately sent on a season-long loan to League One outfit Oxford United. Oxford had wanted to sign Cadden last season but were unwilling to fork out the £320,000 for his cross-border development fee.
There had previously been no official agreement with the MLS compelling them to pay a development fee for young players from abroad. However, they agreed in April to honour Fifa’s training and solidarity system, which guarantees compensation for clubs which have nurtured their own talent.
Motherwell’s negotiations with the US authorities have come to nothing and they are now ready to take Cadden’s case to world ruling body Fifa. Even so, Burrows, pictured inset, doesn’t anticipate a swift resolution.
“We’re still in discussions with MLS, who handle these negotiations,” he said. “In America, the MLS – rather than the clubs – own the players’ contracts. There have been a few offers from them so far but there hasn’t been one we could accept.
“The SFA have offered us support with a watching brief but Fifa insist that both parties give each other a fair chance to resolve any disputes prior to them becoming involved in arbitration.
“I would say we’re coming to the end of that stage now. The talks with MLS have been amicable but we’re looking for a significant sum for a player we took on as a young boy and turned into a full international player.”
However, while Cadden has been playing for Oxfords on a weekly basis, Burrows expects to wait for years before they are recompensed for his loss.
“Fifa are trying to speed up the process for dealing with this kind of thing but their wheels tend to move slowly and I know of a similar appeal involving two British clubs which has been in their system for three years now,” he said.
“Put it this way… it wouldn’t surprise me if the compensation fee for Chris won’t be included in our accounts for 2019-20 – and they won’t be published until December of next year.
“It does seem ridiculous that Chris left us when his contract expired on May 31 but we won’t be compensated for that loss for a year or two. It also – quite by accident – exposes a loophole which European clubs could use to avoid paying development fees for young players.”