Often Partisan

Five Year Deals

One thing I have noticed continually cropping up in the comments here and around the messageboards is how much Blues fans admire Chris Hughton, and how people think that he’s worthy of a vastly extended contract. Whilst I admire the sentiment, I think it’s misplaced.

Don’t get me wrong, I think Hughton has achieved nothing short of miracles this year. Whilst it’s true Blues do have a very decent Championship squad on paper, I firmly believe that without a steady guiding hand at the helm the off field troubles that Blues have suffered over the last few months could well have distracted the side from achieving what it has. I admire the way Hughton is dignified when he talks about the club, and about how he sees us playing; I admire the positivity, the passion for free-flowing passes, and let’s be honest “proper” football that Hughton has instilled as the hallmark for his team. Blues aren’t just winning games, they’re entertaining the crowd and winning plaudits from neutrals and fans alike.

One of the issues surrounding Hughton is the misconceptions over his contract. As many of you will know, Hughton is on a one year rolling deal. Now, when people hear one year they think – crap, he’ll be a free agent in the summer. Fear not – a one year rolling deal means that at any point in his Blues career Chris Hughton will have one year left on his contract. Thus for another team to buy his contract out will cost one year’s salary, and should things go pear-shaped Blues will have to pay one year’s salary to pay off Chris Hughton. Rolling deals are fairly standard in the managerial business, as they give both the club and the manager a fair amount of security.

In my opinion, this kind of deal is perfect for Blues. We didn’t really know in the summer where we were going to be, and with this in place it meant that should things have gone to pot, then Peter Pannu would have been able to cut Blues losses without paying out a massive amount of compo. Likewise, should Hughton show to be a raging success – then Blues have a nice amount of compo acting as a deterrent for clubs showing an interest in him.

Now of course, Hughton has done really well and people are worried about him taking another job, which is understandable. People have slowly got it into their minds that even a year’s compensation isn’t a big enough deterrent and Chris Hughton needs to be signed to a long-term, fixed term contract sooner rather than later. I’m afraid I cannot agree with that myself, and I can point to two historical examples as why.

In 2004, Steve Bruce was rewarded for finishing tenth in the Premiership with a five-year contract. It worked as a deterrent, as two months later when Newcastle came to call, Blues held firm and held on to their boss. Toon apparently offered around £3mil for Bruce’s services; however Sullivan was later quoted as saying that the compensation agreement in the contract was £7million – so they were able to turn down the advance easily. As we all know, things slowly started to turn stale, and in November 2007 Bruce, having complained he was “shafted on a new contract” moved on to Wigan for £3million. Now, with hindsight I honestly think Blues should have let Bruce go to Newcastle as he wanted to – the club never progressed any further under him and by the time he’d moved on to Wigan he’d reached the end of his shelf-life.

In 2010, Alex McLeish signed a three-year deal with the club having taken the team to 9th place in the Premiership, with a run of fifteen matches unbeaten in all competitions within that season. However, we all know how that turned out; despite winning the Carling Cup Blues were relegated last season and Alex resigned by email to take over the poisoned chalice over the expressway. Again, by the time Alex did quit many Blues fans wanted him out and in my mind Blues were extraordinarily lucky to get £1.5mil or so for a manager they probably couldn’t afford to fire.

The fact is managers have shelf-lives. It takes an extraordinary manager to be able to manage a club and keep improving it after five years at the helm. I’m of the belief (as I’ve stated in the comments on this site) that no manager of Blues should ever be given more than a two-year rolling deal. Now, I appreciate some people think Chris Hughton is the second coming of the Messiah but I have to be pragmatic in my viewpoint. I would much rather Blues protected themselves more in making sure that they weren’t over committed to someone who they might not be able to afford in the future (like for instance, the Nikola Zigic situation) than tying down someone because it looks like they have the potential to lead us to the promised land.

There is also the factor that Hughton may well not want a new deal anyway. The feeling I get from the club is that a new contract for the gaffer isn’t paramount on the list of priorities at the moment; I should imagine the team is more concerned with ensuring that they get the results to get us back into the Premiership. If that happens – well then maybe Blues could offer the bloke a pay rise, it would only be fair. However, a new deal isn’t what I think Hughton would want – and it’s not what the club needs.

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23 Responses to “Five Year Deals”

  • biggun_BCFC says:

    CH has done a great job, not just on the pitch, but off it too…. I do agree with the above comments though, Managers do go stale unless they have great financial backing to really push up the table and not just bring in players for the sake of players moving around the leagues cause they are bored…..

    I mention off the pitch as there seems to be a little more harmony within the fans these days… the fact none of us know about the future, we could be heads down all season, but due to his style for football, his attitude it seems to have lifted the fans….

    Its not solved the bigger issues with CY and PP, but at least on match day we can actually look forwards to the games because we are playing better football and not defensive aka Bruce (althought I was a fan) and McCliesh (Never liked him, glad he went)

  • Spotlight Kid says:

    It is not the length of the contract but the equity of the rewards for the job done that matters. Don’t make the mistake most nitpicking NUFC blogs did in damning Hughton, Hamlyn style, after he achieved the impossible. After the fans and the ground, CH is currently the Blues most important asset whether you like it or not – and assetts need to be valued & protected for sound commercial reasons, however this is achieved.

  • Spotlight Kid says:

    ‘it meant that should things have gone to pot, then Peter Pannu would have been able to cut Blues losses without paying out a massive amount of compo. Likewise, should Hughton show to be a raging success – then Blues have a nice amount of compo acting as a deterrent for clubs showing an interest in him’.

    This is a contradictory statement. The amount of compensation paid is the same either way so how can it be both ‘a nice amount’ and ‘not a massive amount’? Such is the problem of a one year deal, no matter what the advantages might be.

    • almajir says:

      Context dear boy.

      If things had gone Pete Tong, one year’s pay isn’t TOO massive a payment to get rid of a manager.

      If someone came in for him, one year’s pay isn’t that small a payment to compensate.

      It’s what’s called a compromise solution.

      • Spotlight Kid says:

        In setting that balanced compromise the owner has to decide what the greater loss would be. I have no idea what CH is on, but even it were £200K pa (which it probably isn’t) this is a drop in the financial ocean compared to the £96m to be gained on getting promotion or even the £250k TV income for the replay against Chelsea.

        My point is given the importance of a good manager, he is massively UNDERvalued and UNDERprotected in a one year rolling deal. And if it is not by now blindingly obvious that things haven’t ‘gone Pete Tong’, thus negating the initial risk factor, then the executive don’t deserve to be in businecharge. In other words the compromise that applied at the outset is no longer a valid concern.

        It’s called good business sense, dear boy!!

        • almajir says:

          If that’s the case, why is Hughton not bothered about it?

          Or the Club?

          It’s only the fans (and a small section of them at that) that are bothered by this whole thing.

          • NooBloo says:


            i really respect a lot of what you say as a lot of it makes great sense but one thing you keep going back to is that CH is not that bothered about his contract or the level of his salary.

            I keep trying to point you in the right direction concerning this without actually giving too much away on the situation and what the true situation is at B/ham.

            It actually is an issue. CH is not after a 5 year contract because all managers including CH know that if he is ever sacked, he would only get one years salary, so can I leave it at this……….perhaps it is his annual salary which is not yet in keeping with other managers in the championship so if B/ham want to hold on to such a good manager. They need to start to value you him to the extent that other Championship clubs value their managers.

            The ball in this regard is in B/hams court because although CH has ruled himself out of the Wolves job, bookmakers and journalists are still linking him with the job, so how long is it actually going to take before another club starts to offer him what Birmingham are not. And i am sure even the honourable CH has a price

          • almajir says:


            Last paragraph – I mention a pay rise. I say it’s a good idea.

            Other than, let’s leave it there.

  • Wingman Blue says:

    A well reasoned argument, as always al, but as the current situation at Dogtown shows, there just aren’t any competent ex-managers available. For this reason only, Chelski have had to stick with AVB after CH showed him how to rebuild a team AND be successful, and Ken Bates has had to swallow his pride and appoint a manager who will be unafraid of standing up to him.
    Even if we aren’t promoted this season, there’ll be lower-table Premiership clubs eyeing up CH’s availability. For a club potentially facing relegation, a one-year contract’s compensation will hardly deter them. For a club with ambition, if CH does get get us promoted, a juicy carrot may be dangled that might prove irresistable to our manager. In that case, one year’s salary would not be adequate compensation if we have acquire a lesser manager.
    If we get promoted, I would seriously expect Spurs to come a-knocking, if ‘Arry gets the England nod. And then who can we expect at (still) cash-strapped Birmingham?

    • Isaac Vivian Alexander says:

      I’m sorry, but I really can’t see potential Champions Lge qualifiers and title chasing Tottenham Hotspur appointing a manager who’s had about 20mins (however ridiculous the decision to get rid of him was) experience managing in the Prem Lge? Spud fans would go mad if ‘Arry is replaced by anyone who isn’t of international – or at the very least continental – managerial calibre. As much as most of us, rightly, think that CH is the 2nd coming of Christ, he’s about as much chance of getting that job as you or I. Now, if the new Spurs boss wants a new coach, or if the likes of a Bolton press the panic button… .? However and hindsight in a year or two may make me look an idiot here, i honestly believe that Chris is a bit of a throwback, a man of his word and someone who won’t ‘walk’ lightly. I also think he actually likes us a club and the fans which I didn’t always get the impression that one or two recent ex-bosses did!

    • blue says:

      i had the same worries about spurs originally, but he’s not someone thats even mentioned seriously by spurs fans,they are after big European names like Mourinho, Rijkaard, ect.

      i think we need to remember that when blues took him on he was out of work,and he wasn’t getting a look in at any of the other vacant jobs. apparently CH and pannu hit it off and have had a good relationship since, that cant be underestimated. we could give CH 5 year contract and promise him the world but that doesn’t mean it’ll happen or last. also we don’t know what bonus package he’s been promised on the rolling one year contract.

      so with everything the way it is, i gotta admit i’m more in agreement with almajir, the rolling 1 year contract at this moment in time is good for everyone(the club,CH and the fans) i’m not worried in the slightest. and if CH or the players are effected they aren’t showing it.


  • Zambo says:

    Managerial contracts in football these days seem to be pretty irrelevant. If another club wants Hughton or Hugton wanst to move on, then he will, reagrdless of how much longer he has according to a ‘piece of paper’

  • BowThai says:

    If CH wanted to go ,hed go.Spurs would pay what it needed but as stated in this artical we are protected either way in our current financial position.(which no one outside HK really knows!)CH said he knew what he was comming to.im sure he would/will only go to better things!Dont blame our club.CH is happy with one year rolling contract and we are lucky to be both still alive and have such a quality mgr.KRO

  • Isaac Vivian Alexander says:

    As mentioned in the article I remember when a lot of fans (me included) were screaming for both Bruce and McLeish to be given longer deals by Gollivan to ‘tie’ them to the club…….didn’t end well either time really did it? I agree that a 2-year rolling deal would be ideal, but in the meantime and if CH is happy then present situation works for me.

  • Oldburyblue says:

    I normally back you 100% almajir but I’m not surprised that spotlight kid replied sarcastically with the “dear boy” comment after its use by yourself which was very condescending. I am disappointed because I thought you were better than that.

    As for the general debate I would agree that the 1yr rolling contract was correct originally to protect both parties, due to CH’s exceptional performance so far the risk of him being poached is more likely and therefore The Club should protect their interests as much as possible.

    I would liken it to player’s contracts. Would we be happy to sign the likes of Mutch, Redmond and Da Ies on rolling 1yr contracts so that they could be poached at any time for relative peanuts?

  • parkp says:

    Yes the subject has been done to death, the rolling contract is a good deal and pay rises should go in tandem with success. Iv said all along, if the board cannot match the ambitions of CH then he will be off. The guy seems happy enough to me and the ambition, following promotion, is to emulate Big Eck and win a major trophy!!!!

  • Bluenosesol says:

    A lot of the new generation managers who would compete against CH for future opportunities are in their thirties and fourties. CH is 53. Therefore any decisions he takes in the future, will be balanced against his need to improve his market value and CV, and to continue to enhance his reputation and current and future earning potential. He can not allow the grass to grow under his feet. As long as Blues are doing well and paying fair market rate we will keep him. When we dont – we wont!

  • Olton Kopite says:

    reality check! the truth is that chris hughton has done nothing so far. he had one objective this season and that was to win promotion……he’s struggling to do that. tactically, he seems to be havin g problems. how come he not only changes a winning side but he still doesnt appear to have a favoured 11. lets not forget that southampton were a league one time last season and are making us look silly at the moment. we should be top 2 minimum…no excuses……… other teams have to work with far less that we have. only west ham can truly boast better personnel than we have at our disposal. sort it out hughton!!! as for giving him a longer deal…… if he gets us up, id offer him another year but thats it. 7 points dropped in the last four home games……..NOT GOOD ENOUGH

    • almajir says:

      Football is a squad game these days

    • NooBloo says:

      He is the only manager in the championship who had to allow for European matches and the travel that entails.

      he has continually lost first choice players in dribs and drabs part way through the season. more than most other managers who lost their players at the start of the season so almost impossible to retain the same team.

      Any decent manager alters their team to suit who you are coming up against. The most successful manager in the UK in the last 30 years chops and changes his team to combat the opposition. Just ask a certain Sir Alex Ferguson. Its called adaptability.

      Thank god you dont manage us mate or we would be heading for league 1

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