Tim Howard and the ‘gentleman’s agreement’

Why is Wayne Rooney playing against Everton?
Tim Howard’s non-appearance in the Man Utd vs Everton match raised many eyebrows particularly because his understudy Iain Turner let in some cheap goals and let Man Utd back in the game which they won 4-2. The win paved the way to their Premiership title. It turns out that Howard’s contract while he on loan to Everton stated that he would not appear against Man Utd, the club that owned him. However, this arrangement is void if Howard’s transfer to Everton was made permanent, which is what his status was when the two clubs met. It turns out that Man Utd attempted to violated league rules to insert an illegal clause in the contract stipulating Howard’s non-appearance against his former club. It was only when Richard Scudamore, the PL’s CEO intervened and threatened penalties that Man Utd backed down.
So why did Tim Howard not appear? It was part of a gentleman’s agreement between the two clubs. Shades of West Ham and third party arrangements. However, unlike the West Ham arrangement, there would have been no material repercussion if Howard appeared “save for angering Sir Alex Ferguson.”
I suppose Everton were so grateful to have a quality goalkeeper that they agreed not to play him against their benefactors. Which raises the question, what would have happened if Everton was in danger of relegation? And needed their best team on the field. Would they have placated Man Utd’s desire to win the Premiership at the cost of their own relegation? To assuage Sir Alex’s ego, would they endanger their existence in the Premiership? Maybe Wayne Rooney should not be playing Everton then? How about that? That to me would be a perfect ‘gentleman’s agreement’. You don’t play your best goalie and we won’t play our best striker because of their previous association with the respective clubs. Fair and square.
There is nothing illegal about this arrangement but there is everything wrong about this inequity between the more powerful clubs and the smaller clubs. Once a player’s transfer is made permanent, the clubs should be free to play him against anyone, including his former club. Smaller clubs have to fight harder to stave of relegation or at best qualify for the UEFA. They should be in a position to field their best team, barring injury or disciplinary action.

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One comment on “Tim Howard and the ‘gentleman’s agreement’
  1. You think that Man U would have sanctioned the finalising of the transfer if Everton were in danger of being relegated? They only finalised the deal on the basis that the loan agreement would be adhered to

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