The one thing Sheffield United insist new signings must adhere to
You can picture the eyebrows being raised, almost hear the sigh as the agent tasked with negotiating the best deal possible for their client was informed it hinged upon one very important detail.
But that is the scene which has played out countless times at Sheffield United after Chris Wilder revealed all of his recent acquisitions, including record signing Sander Berge, have relegation clauses written into their present contracts.
“Every one of our players has got a relegation clause and we won't sign a player without one,” the United manager said. “We've had quite lengthy discussions with players and agents about that particular clause but in the end everyone that we've signed or wanted to sign has accepted it.
“We've not lost a player to date because of it.”
Although Wilder’s squad have no reason to fear a decrease in wages next year - after winning 10 and drawing nine of their last 26 matches, United enter Saturday’s game against Brighton and Hove Albion sixth in the table - the 52-year-old’s insistence they must accept his demand confirms he is not taking success next term for granted.
Wilder’s refusal to sanction a move unless the player concerned relents - either when renegotiating their terms or arranging a transfer to Bramall Lane - is also likely to have complicated discussions with several previous targets. Particularly given the financial hurdles United had to overcome after being promoted 10 months ago and, as Wilder has referred to on several occasions, the growing influence of footballers’ representatives.
“Their initial wage demands for being in the Premier League is the first challenge because we've got a wage structure we're not going to rip up,” he said. “But it’s important, vital even, to be responsible.”
Wilder’s approach has been shaped by his experiences at former clubs Halifax and Northampton where, for reasons beyond the coaching staff’s control, both found themselves staring into the financial abyss.
“Whatever we do, we want to do it sensibly,” he said. “There’s no other way it should be done, as far as I’m concerned.”