Confirmation of Darren Huckerby's worst fears was not long in coming – it arrived at just after 7.30 this morning as the Canaries officially confirmed that Dickson Etuhu was poised to join Premiership new-boys Sunderland.
Once again, a get-out clause had been triggered – this time to the tune of ?1.5 million.
With Preston North End reported to be due a sell-on of 12 per cent on any transfer profit, the Norfolk club were today likely to end up the thick part of ?1 million richer for a player they bought 18 months ago.
The trouble is, of course, that they will be that much the poorer player-wise as the powerful, 6ft 3in Nigerian leaves a gaping hole in the heart of the City midfield.
Little wonder that the Canaries were desperately seeking to negotiate a new deal with Etuhu last week as it became increasingly obvious that the player's representatives thought it was high time for a move.
Only for a Carrow Road deal which would have earned the 25-year-old half as much again to be over-shadowed by one at the Stadium Of Light that could earn him three times his wages in Norfolk.
?We received an offer from Sunderland for Dickson on Saturday which meets a ?1.5 million buy-out clause in his contract,? club chief executive Neil Doncaster told the club's official website this morning.
?We were very disappointed to lose Dickson, obviously, but the simple facts are that Dickson turned down the offer of a new, more lucrative contract from Norwich city which was already on the table in favour of Sunderland's offer – and we are therefore forced to accept their offer under the terms of his contract.?
The fact that the Black Cats' offer was – like Derby's for Robert Earnshaw – bang on the money in terms of the get-out clause will hardly ease Peter Grant's black mood; nor will the manner in which Darren Huckerby managed to spread the 'good' news.
In fairness to Huckerby, that's just the nature of the beast – he has grown a big Canary heart over the last four years; one that he invariably wears on his sleeve.
As for the hot topic of 'get-out' clauses, that remains one large can of worms – a can that can work both ways after it was reported that the Canaries triggered a similar 'Bye-bye!' routine in David Strihavka's deal with Banik Ostrava.
Likewise, there's no reason why you can't actually drive a player's price up beyond a get-out clause. That, however, requires the close co-operation of the player's agent in whose fickle hands a club's transfer fate invariably rests.
Thus if the agent has no particular loyalty to either of two 'buying' clubs – let's say Charlton and Derby in Earnshaw's case – then he's onto a winner as a transfer auction sails way beyond the magic ?3.5 million mark and as the likely wage packet waiting Earnie rises accordingly, so Mr Ten Per Cent is laughing.
But then he's also laughing if he tips a Davies or a Keane the wink as to the level of a get-out clause, in the fairly certain knowledge that his help will be rewarded further down the line.
In that, it doesn't have to be anything untoward or under-hand – simply helping move another one of his clients on elsewhere at a later date will provide another pay-day; a suitable pay-back for his help in engineering such a swift exit of an Earnshaw or an Etuhu.
Either that, or if, say Derby, were resigned to spending the current market rate on a player of Earnshaw's goal-scoring prowess – say ?6 million – then some of the ?2.5 million saving triggering the get-out clause has created, merely find its way back into the player's wage packet and from there into the hands of Mr 10 Per Cent.
But this is all the nature of the beast; these are the kind of dark arts that get to be practised once you find yourselves operating with players of Premiership potential; go a few rungs higher and watch how messy Manchester United's pursuit of Carlos Tevez becomes.
The root of all such evil is, alas, the same. Cash. The wad is god.
How do you avoid get-out clauses in the future? Well, if you're not prepared to see players leave seemingly on the 'cheap', then you have to cross their palms with more silver wages-wise.
That if Johnny X wants a ?2 million get-out clause inserted in his Carrow Road contract before he even thinks of packing his bags for the Broads, then you take his weekly wage packet up from, say, ?6,000 per week to ?10,000 per week until he and his agent agree to drop it.
Or else at ?10,000 per week, they agree to up their 'get-out' position to ?3 million and it is only when you start to talk about ?14,000 per week will they drop the get-out demand altogether. Because then they'll be making the money out of the player while he's playing; not making the money when they get a chance to move the player on…
And that's your trouble with 22, 23, 24-year-old footballers who do not come with a wife and kids in tow; they have no second voice whispering in their ear; telling them that the kids are happy at school here…
It doesn't work every time; clearly. There are endless exceptions to every rule. But it gives you more of a chance; a hope when it's club versus player and his agent.
In the meantime, as Etuhu prepares to join Keiron Richardson and Michael Chopra in the Keane revolution up on Wearside, so Grant is left back at the drawing board – his hopes of fielding a Brellier-Etuhu double act in midfield this season suddenly flying out of the window on the back of one, weekend phone call.
Bottom line? You pays your money, or you take a chance. And for as long as that financial gulf between the Championship and the Premiership continues to widen and widen, so that fundamental dilemma for clubs of Norwich's ilk remains.
You pays your money. Or you take a chance.
Oh, and player-power rules, OK?
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