So, farewell Steven Gregory.
In a transfer that ultimately took nobody by surprise, he’s heading towards the South Coast to Bournemouth for the usual “undisclosed fee”. At least it finally shows why we moved for Max Porter so quickly after the playoff final.
Whether it really was true that intially strong interest had been going on since before Eastlands, and whether Gregory really did put in a transfer request last week may never be found out. But for the first time since Chris Hussey got sent to Coventry, we’ve been on the other end of a proper transfer with proper money paid.
Will we miss Gregs? Yes. Is it a major loss? Not as much as losing Seb or BJ would be. While he undoubtedly played well at Eastlands, it was but just one game. And throughout last season he got as many brickbats as bouquets aimed at him.
More astute observers than your editor note that Gregs was not nearly as effective when man-marked, and in League One he may get sussed out more on that score. Of course, it depends how well he can adapt to that…
The most important aspect is how much money we’ve got out of it. “Undisclosed fees” are the bane of the modern football fan, although they are done to stop other clubs finding out how much money you’ve got when you come sniffing round for a replacement. Erik Samuelson seems happy enough with the fee though:
He is a very talented player and while we are sorry to lose him, we felt that so long as we could get a fee that reflected his talents we should not stand in the way of his ambition to play at a higher level.
From the OS.
So, what is this fee that we’re not being told about? The rumour mill yesterday was spinning with a Â£50k sum, which was the cause of a great deal of angst. For the sake of argument, we’ll assume that’s what he’s gone for, add-ons notwithstanding. People were expecting Â£75k, Â£80k, even Â£100k, although if there’s any add-on clauses it might reach that figure anyway.
Question is, why did people think we’d get those sums? The reaction yesterday upon finding out it could be Â£50k was akin to paying to have Pippa Middleton sit on your face, and instead finding out it’s Steve Evans who’s going to drop his keks for you instead.
It could have been worse though. Imagine it being Â£40k, the figure allegedly offered in the first place. And given that Gregs had one year left on his deal – just imagine how you’d be feeling if he stayed, played well all season but could then leave on a freebie time time next year…
It all depends if you think that figures like Â£75k are realistic in the harsh world of League football. Let’s look at Gregs objectively : he’s a player who is 24 years old, has only played four games as a Football League player, and the latest he would have done that was three years ago. The rest of the time he’s been in the Conference and was signed to AFCW on a free.
If he has gone for around the Â£50k mark, it’s possible that it’s all he’s worth with regards to his experience. Put the Adidas Predator on the other foot here – if it was us in L1, and we’d been after a player like that, we’d want him for as little money as possible.
It’s worth looking at the list of League Two transfers this summer, along with the same from League One. Notice something? They’re nearly either all freebies or “undisclosed” – the only tangible transfer fee down there is Â£30k that Swindon paid York for Jonathon Smith. You can do your own background research on him, but suddenly it doesn’t make the alleged sum for Gregs look so bad…
Which teaches us a rather harsh lesson or two. What we think a player is worth isn’t the same as anyone else. If you took ten minutes to look at who’s been signing and how much for, prices seem pretty low generally. While “undisclosed” is an annoying word to read, chances are those specific transfers are not significantly higher than what Bournemouth have just shelled out. Certainly not for a player with a handful of games for Wycombe.
League Two clubs – and ones in League One, come to think of it – don’t splash the cash so much. Many of them have been cutting back anyway, and the salary cap contributes to that. Not to mention our old friend the PFA list coming into play here. It’s only Crawley who are spending a lot (quelle surprise) and even their signing of Tyrone Barnett doesn’t come with a price tag.
“But hang on” I hear you say. “Why are we selling Gregs for less than a player in the Conference would go for?”. Because Conference clubs are stupid. And desperate. And panicky. Remember how desperate the likes of Luton and Grimsby are to get back into the Football League – if splashing out Â£100k on a player gets them up, that’s what they’ll do.
We all know about the Premiership, and if you’re going to get serious money for a youngster, you have to have one that a Championship club wants (a la Hussey). Maybe if Millwall liked the look of Gregs it would have been a six-figure sum?
And we can’t exactly be smug about it either. Remember how much we paid for Jon Main? It’s not that we’ve sold Gregs for a pittance, it’s that Â£20k for a Ryman Prem striker was grossly over-valued. Yes, he made us that money back in spades, but it was still many times more than you should pay at that level. Crawley’s spending may have distorted the market and expectations game, but they weren’t the only ones.
With all this in mind, I think we can safely assume that DK won’t go for the Â£100k we think he should. Wearing an AFCW shirt does not automatically mean that a player will go for the top dollar, which does seem to cloud the judgement of many a fan.
If this teaches us anything, it’s that, quite possibly, our players aren’t worth that much right now. Maybe Seb Brown will be the next six-figure sum to go, but unless the likes of Jolley and Jackson wow the division next season, people will continue to be disappointed when it comes to transfers out. Put this this way : of the players we released, only one has found a club in the same level as we were last season – Yaks at Newport. The rest are in Conference South…
Hopefully, it will also stop us making proclamations that we will only sell our most talented youngsters to Championship level or above. Hardly anyone else in football makes those sort of statements, and now we know why. By all means continue to develop players for either big money moves or a continuation up the Football League, but no club calls the transfer shots as much as they like at this level.
Especially AFC Wimbledon.
Still, we have some money in the bank now, and if it means we can move for a decent L2 level striker where we have to pay a transfer fee, all is well and good. If it also means we get in Gwillim, then that’s a troublesome area of the field sorted out without too much sweat.
As for Gregs, we can’t do anything but wish him well on the South Coast, and no doubt we’ll end up facing him in the JPT, where he’ll have a blinder and score a hat-trick against us. Like DK, he put the effort in when we needed it most, and you can’t ask for more than that.
Although I’m not sure about the driving into the car park comment though…