When is a clause, a clause no more?

Picture : @KBDphotos

Joe O Brien Whitmarsh yesterday joined Southampton for an undisclosed fee, reported to be anywhere from 75k to six figures.

Joe who appeared in twenty-three league games last season, starting fourteen of those, in which City collected five wins, two draws and seven defeats. He scored four times from eighteen shots in total, of which ten were on target, giving him higher then average stats for shots to goal conversion rate 22% (11% average) and SOT to goal conversion rate 40% (33% average). He also provided one assist last season, while he also played a part in the playoff final vs Waterford as a substitute, having made his way back from illness to take a spot on the bench.

 It is believed that the possibility of him returning to the club was very real and indeed it was his preferred option before the end of last season. However, the club’s policy of no buy out clauses hampered those discussions. The players representatives made the argument that any contract would be a continuation of the old contract and therefore the no buyout clause did not apply as it already existed in his previous agreement, however the club rejected this idea, and the player and his agents then decided it would be in his best interests to move on. Once word got out that he was no longer going to remain at City, at least three clubs came to the fore and with heads then turned the possibility of him then remaining at City was zero. Even though he was out of contract at the time of leaving, the club had the safety net of a training compensation payment to use in any negotitaions with Southampton. 

This situation raises an interesting question regarding the City policy, if a player has a clause in an existing contract, is it then logical to expect said player to sign a new deal with that clause removed? I would argue NO, it’s never going to happen and its unreasonable to expect players to do it.  Not many of us would take clauses out of our employment contract.

I would also argue though that the club would have a right to expect that release value to go up in any new deal, why would they increase their costs without increasing the minimum they could expect to get back should the player move on? I have no idea if there was a willingness to negotiate the value of the buyout as my understanding is that things never got that far, the club were insistent that their policy was now “no clauses” and things never really went beyond that point.

Every fan I have spoken to supports the club’s policy in not including buyout clauses for young players signing their first pro deals, in fact I believe one player has signed such a deal against the expressed wishes of his agent, so the policy can work. It becomes much harder to retrospectively apply that policy to players who already have those clauses in place and in this case, it does appear to be the major reason why Joe O Brien Whitmarsh will not be a Cork City player this season.

Of course, it should be noted that the club’s new policy was announced a week after Ruairi Keating signed a deal which we now know contained a relegation release clause. Why one deal for Ruairi and something different for Joe? I guess that is something we will never know.


As always, everyone in TOTAP Towers would like to wish Joe the best for his future career and thank him for his time at the club.