The Rio Ferdinand Situation


There has been much made about our premier defender’s contract situation since yesterday. Rio Ferdinand, according to earlier reports, was to hold off contract negotiations till summer. The reports attributed his agent, the scheming Pini Zahavi, to have said that.

Lot’s of blogs and forums have immediately reacted to the news.

Scott on the ROM blog has compared and contrasted Rio’s situation with Wes Brown’s contract wrangle. He asks if Rio would be given preferential treatment on the back of rejecting a loyal servant like Brown.

On A Kick In the Grass, James Ryddel is worried if United end up, in his words, ‘ball watching’ as Rio lets his contract run down.

But today, Sky Sports has reported that Rio’s agent is willing to negotiate a contract ‘soon’. Now I don’t know how different soon is from this summer, but I would hope it is sooner. Rio’s contract would expire in 2009, so failing to negotiate one now would see him leave for free in ’09.

I am fairly certain that the club would want some return for a £33m investment. But more importantly, the thought of selling Rio Ferdinand at this point is unthinkable — as much as it would be to sell Rooney or Ronaldo. Ever since the Glazer takeover it has been the rule that players’ contracts are negotiated one year before expiry. Unlike before, when it was done two years prior.

The thing with Rio is that he is as integral to the core of our team as are our star attackers. But does that mean we have to break the bank (and our wage structure) to accede to his demands, if he does make unreasonable ones? For one, I must say that Rio would need to be bloody courageous to stall on contract negotiations, given the history. Most of us would recall the days, I’m sorry, months, he took to finally pen down a £100,000 a week contract.

While many of us have forgiven him, preferring to look at his assured performances along with Vidic — perhaps some even consider him to be potential captaincy material — surely we can’t be paying £120k a week for a defender, can we?

While we know nothing about Rio’s true intentions, let’s not throw our toys and talk crap about him. However, suppose he does again make a big fuss over wages, should we just sell him and risk a season of uncertain central defensive pairings — an area we took years to shore up? Or should we actually break our wage structure, again? Remember, breaking wage structures can only send you down a slippery slope which could have a snowball effect on the team. We have Evra’s contract situation to deal with too. And you never know, with these contract things, the proverbial shit can happen. I don’t trust players anymore, ever since a certain Argentinian left back betrayed us.

So that’s the end of my rant. Over to you.



  1. I’m not the biggest fan of this “breaking our wage structure” argument. Let’s think about it – an extra £20k a week (for example) works out at an extra £1m per year (give or take). But if we sell Rio and buy someone of similar stature, we will pay many times that in agent’s fees. Not only that, but the player we get instead may not be as good, and certainly will not be as integrated into the side.

    Maybe we’d even end up with some money in the bank – but we ended up with money in the bank after selling Stam and taking Laurent Blanc, and I’ve never talked to anyone who thought that was a good deal. Shudder in horror at the memory of Blanc and Taibi playing in the same team…fortunately for one match only.

    I’m not saying it’s a good thing that players have this sort of power, or that we should just roll over and pay whatever is asked. But in these days where very good players are hard to come by, it IS a players’ market – simple supply and demand economics.

    When we had a similar situation with Keane, I felt the same – the guy’s got us in a corner because he’s that good and that important to the team, but to sell for the sake of our “wage structure” would be to cut off our nose to spite our face.

    Would anyone deny Ronaldo an extra £20k if he asked for it? I doubt it, and those who would would be doing so out of principle rather than practicality. If you want the best players in the world, you’re going to have to pay them as such. But I’d rather keep the players we have and forgo a couple of squad signings this summer than lose a couple of big names and be held to ransom in the market for it.

    Just my view, although it goes against the popular grain these days.

  2. actually penguine you do have a point, but the problem with that is that it will spiral and to some point get out of control, and surely if rio is to be given the increase, then why not evra and brown, the pillars of the succes of the time the whole these season.

  3. I agree, there have to be limits. Although I think putting Evra and Brown on the same footing is slightly harsh. One is the best left back in the league, the other is a very good fill-in at either centre back or right back.

    I suspect the club’s stance with Brown is basically designed to work out whether he’s prepared to be a reserve (a la Fletcher and O’Shea) for the rest of his career, or whether he now thinks he should be first choice. I’m a big fan of Brown, but he’s not going to break up the Rio-Vidic partnership, and he doesn’t do enough going forward to be a long-term pick at RB.

    If Evra wants a bit more money, he deserves it. If he wants to be in the top bracket of earners (Rio, Ronaldo, Rooney), then he’s been listening to his agent too much. If anyone else belongs in that group, it’s Vidic.

  4. This Bosman ruling is a complete pain. It gives players (and agents) way too much power in contract negotiations. Clubs cannot make take-it-or-leave-it offers because the player if he refuses can just wait for his contract to expire, leave on a free and the club is unable to recoup any money.

  5. Rio has United over a barrel and he knows it. You cannot at this point easily replace him and expect the same quality of play and cohesion in your back four. Rio and Vidic have played together for such a long time now that their understanding makes it look like they are liked at the hip. Not since the Bruce/Pallister days has their been as great a partnership at CB. They are arguably the best pairing of CB’s in world football and to mess with that would bring calamity to our team. Pay him what he wants and stop worrying about antiquated pay structures that don’t mean shite in todays game. Limiting yourself by imposing a team limit on salary per week is ridiculous. Would this crap stop Barcelona,Real Madrid, Juventus, and the two Milan’s? They don’t religiously follow such archaic accounting practices. Manchester United is one of the two largest clubs in the world. It’s time they paid their players and ran their accounting like it, and not like Aston Villa or Portsmouth. Bottom line is that Rio is irreplaceable and the supporters want him signed at all costs. Being proud and stubborn as a team will only hurt United in the end. Rio deserves a raise.

  6. 130k max, i cant see us going higher than that, what with ronny being offered 140k, we offer rio 140 then ronny will want like 160k because of his ego, players like ronny come once in a generation, we can find players as good as or better than rio, and no im not saying rio is crap because rio is one of the best in the world but there are other best in the worlds like kompany and ramos, and potential stars like pique(who we have) and Garay who we are linked to already.

  7. I have no doubt in my mind that Grognard 4 all his many words has very limited knowledge of
    the way football is played.Blasting Scholes 4 back passing shows a lack of appreciation of the
    fundamental rule of football…POSSESSION.Scholes like Zidane mastered that concept and he only
    makes an incisive pass when necessary eg 2 rooney vs milan

  8. [Grognard]
    All teams have wage structures. It’s not an antiquated system. It’s a method of maintaining financial discipline. If you don’t have one, you could end up in a free for all with players throwing their toys out. Man Utd, unlike Barcelona or Madrid or the Milans, are saddled with an astronomical debt. So dismissing the concept of a wage structure is just plain naive.

    In Rio’s case, though it is a dilemma. You can make an exception in his case and risk the future when a Ronaldo might start demanding 150k or whatever. We are a huge club and we can’t expect to be held ransom. Again, Madrid and Barcelona don’t allow players to hold them to ransom. They are smart people.

    My point is it is a genuine dilemma. Rio is so fuckin’ important to United. I can’t think of a better replacement. I want him to sign on the dotted line. But I just hope he doesn’t hold the club to ransom, especially, given the pain it caused fans last time round.

    And the big clubs have one player who’s paid so much. Milan have Kaka, Barcelona have Ronaldinho (not even Messi is paid as much), Madrid I don’t know who is paid that much at present. Chelsea run like football manager so we’ll keep them as an exception. Arsenal don’t pay anyone that kind of money – not even Fabregas.

    We already have Rooney, Ronaldo and Rio who are paid 100k plus. So it is a valid thing to consider when Rio asks for a further bump.

  9. Rio deserves to get paid, performances aside(and they are solid) he, Rooney and Ronaldo are the
    face of United. As was said before, his partnership with Vidic is phenominal, and to break that up
    over 20k a week would be rediculous. Let me ask you this, is there ANY OTHER current CB pairing you would
    select for a match with your life on the line than Rio/Vidic? They would be my first choice every time.
    Please SAF, keep Rio in Red where he belongs.

  10. Ronaldo’s and Rooney’s contracts were negotiated while there was more then one year left on their contract.

  11. Dan there is no way that Kompany is better than Rio, no way! He’s an eciting prospect and a fantastic player, as is Sergio Ramos, but neither have the experience nor the defensive capabilities of Rio. You are the biased one here Dan, biased against Rio, everyone logical can see that he is vital to our team, and its not just United fans who beilieve that we have the best central defensive partnership in the world. Vidic is the one who use stregnth and commitment as his main form of defense, so having Terry and him or Puyold and hi wouldn’t be as great a partnership, just 2 great players.

  12. Yes maybe I am a bit biased to United, but I don’t belive you can just buy a great CB pairing. Terry and vidic? You have to be kidding me. To me Terry is the most overrated CB in the world. He is the the epitome of everything that is wrong with modern football. Puyol is a beast, but I don’t know if he’s physical enough for the Prem. Fact is Rio is a proven commodity as far as United are concerned, and it would be an outrage to let him walk away now.

  13. At this point I wouldn’t exactly rate Kompany as world class, an exciting prospect, yes, but he needs to show it on a consistant basis and on the biggest stages. Rio has been there, done that

  14. im sorry but your wrong, ramos and kompany are 2 of the best, and i never said rio wasnt an important part of the team, i said there as replacements out there, and im sure as hell that saf would rather loose rio, keep ronaldo, and get a replacement(ramos, kompany and other young top class CB) rather than him keep rio and risk losing ronaldo to madrid, think about that in the lonh run, we lose a 23 year old goalscoring winger that is touted as the best in the world, and is not even in his prime yet or we lose a 29 year old centre who would have given us another 4-5 years max and most likely a bench-warmer around 32 to a younger CB, and of course is easily replaceable… i know which one i would keep.

  15. [Rahul]
    Those were long term contracts for young players and in Ron’s case it was more to safeguard and ward off the spanish clubs.

    However in the case of the majority of players, Evra, Vidic, Brown, Rio it has now become a one year prior to expiry policy under the Glazers — unless of course, the Glazers choose to allow an exception.

  16. [Dan]
    I wouldn’t want to sell Rio. We can’t really expect Pique to step up to the plate, and buying a new defender would mean expecting him to settle down — in which time we would have leaked in enough goals to concede the season. It is essential that we keep Rio, but my hope is that he doesn’t hold the club to ransom for it. Unfortunately players like Terry have set a precedent. So, Rio does have a point if he demands in excess of 120k

  17. yes but you must see if rio wants something around 140k then ronny WILL want more, the real will offer him like 180k and we will ofer 150-60k and ronny will be gone because we were afraid to buy a new CB and will now have a deep search and invest heavilly for a replacement.

  18. lol rafa thinks he has the 4 best cm in the world in gerrard, mach, levia and alonso, of course, you have the pace and vision of alonso, the trickery of levia, the shot power and passing of gerrard and the tackling of mach-lol, so why did they lose to barnsley…

  19. It is a simple case of a player who MIGHT hold the club to ransom. I really think wage structures can’t be ignored. Its just against basic principles of management. Like RedRanter said, it will then become a free for all. Rio is an important player. Very important. He will make a demand of 120,000. But it will come down to negotiations between the two parties. Lets not forget that if Rio does leave us on a Bosman, he will still strruggle to find an A grade team, who will pay a 31 year old CB more money and play him regularly. So, I don’t think Rio will leave.

  20. 30 actually utsav but only a couple of months till he’s 31, though i do reckon spurs will be an a team by then, and they did sign gilberto, that dudes a joka, why lie and say we signed him?

  21. Jay Wire; Keep your personal jibes to yourself mate. You know nothing of my knowledge of football and like you I am entitled to my opinions. So SOD OFF! I am not the only one that gets frustrated with Scholes anti-Scholes play of late. We are an attacking side that plays it cautious when necessary. Scholes finds it necessary 90% of the game. I used to be a big fan of his but now I am just a frustrated observer. You have no right to challenge my knowledge on anything. What you do have is the right to disagree with my assessment.

  22. I’m torn on this one…

    Rio is not my favourite person at the club… But a fucking great player.

    We were paying his wages while he ‘missed’ his drugs ban… He had those meetings with Kenyon with his agent behind the scenes.. and hmmm his personality i just don’t dig.

    But, we need him like hell.

  23. Giggs won’t be playing tomorrow.. looking forward to Nani. Maybe Park will play also? I think Ronaldo should be rested for Lyon.

  24. Grognard said two very imp things:

    1) Rio and Vida are the best CB-partnership United has seen this decade (IMO that’s worth an extra 1m per year)

    2) Rio deserves a raise

    The only way the last one doesn’t work is if he’s not made captain after Nev / Giggs retire. And he should be captain, all signs so far point to it.

  25. rio or rooney are next captin, rio has shown captain like qualities as has rooney, we need rooney on the field if we want silver, i think rio has been in just about every game this season…

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