Yesterday, a story caught my attention. Notts County had bid £150,000 for Paul Benson.
Now, being a Chesterfield fan, I remembered the particular player from League Two. He had ripped the competition apart whilst the Spireites had had a couple of dire seasons there. Scoring 82 goals in 195 games for Dagenham made him a striker to be feared by lower league teams, and rightly so.
I had not really kept in touch with League One since we had left it in May 2007, similar to the way that I had only half looked at League Two before we found ourselves in the midst of it. Due to this, I had not really looked at how the guy had done last season at Charlton. Had he carried on his career up the ladder with a bundle of goals, or had be proved to be simply ‘not good enough’?
I did some digging, watched some footage, and read some forums. But in the end, the most important factor was the statistics. He had scored 10 goals in 30 games. 1 goal every 3 games. I was impressed. He had clearly adapted well to his new surroundings.
On my visit to the Chesterfield FC forum that night, there were cries of desperation. Whilst we had clearly missed out on a few players due to not wanting to give in to Agents Fee’s, and greedy Chairmen (*Cough* Barry Fry *Cough*), Notts County had got out the ‘£’ and got an experienced striker that knew where the net was.
It was at this point that I took a step back and reviewed the situation, was it that simple? Were we being let down by the Club not making similar moves?
However, I decided that there was a key question- Was this a good signing, or is it very good publicity at a price?
Whilst there had been no news coming from Chesterfield FC, despite cries by the fans of what we thought we needed NOW.. Notts County had offered a good fee for, on paper, an experienced and talented footballer.
So, what if the £150,000 bid is accepted, the lad moves, and say, signs a 3 year deal on £4,000 a week. Including bonus’, by the end of the 3 years, hypothetically, Notts would’ve spent over half a million on a player that would now be 34/35, and free to leave for zilch.
Suddenly the deal doesn’t look so inviting, and especially with their financial activities and problems in recent years, might live to regret it.
Perhaps the deal would be great if Benson knocked them in for fun and they got promoted? But, from talking to Notts County fans I know, they’ve said that the squad is a bit thin on it’s feet. They have a great signing, in say, Bencherif. But you need more than a couple of very talented individuals to make that step to the top.
If County finish in midtable, hovering over the relegation places, or, god help them, in the relegation red.. How hard will it be to pay off the coup of Benson?
Whilst Chesterfield FC may choose to look for the next Craig Davies, unwanted, put down, on a free, but with potential.. I will always sleep safe at night knowing that my Club isn’t doing anything that may bite them in the back in a couple of years.
Before I round this off, I’d like to make it clear that this wasn’t a piece about ‘Chesterfield’ and Notts County’ specifically, but one is my team, and the other was involved in a transfer that caught my eye.
What I wonder is, how many transfers that involve fees in League One/League Two these days, are just blankets over the eyes of the loyal fan?
Maybe being seen to shift ‘X’ amount of ‘£’ for a classy player up front can distract supporters from noticing they disparately need a solid left back? Or maybe grabbing that ex-Premiership midfielder on a huge wage can be the decoy for not being able to land a keeper that can grasp a cross?
I don’t know if this is a reality in Football today, but if you give some of these deals a real financial rub down, you might find some worrying hypothetical situations. And we all know there’s nothing worse than these ‘hypotheticals’ coming true.