It’s been 20 years since Jean-Marc Bosman won his court case to be allowed to leave a club at the end of his contract on a free transfer.
Good for the players as it increased their salaries and signing-on fees. Good for agents who descended to take a huge slice of these fees and at times bad for clubs who couldn’t afford to hold onto players they had nurtured.
Sheffield Wednesday have had a mixed bag of Bosmans. We haven’t lost many of our better players due to the Bosman ruling and thankfully we’ve managed to command transfer fees.
Some of the first players to leave after the court case were Chris Woods and Chris Waddle but they were reaching the end of their playing careers so the loss was minimal.
We’ve done well for Bosman goalkeepers over the years; Lee Grant, Stephen Bywater, Pavel Srníček, Chris Kirkland and of course our current number one Keiren Westwood.
Some of our key players this season like Wallace, Hutchinson and Lee have come to Hillsborough for free and who can forget the talismanic Jose Semedo was a gift from Charlton Athletic.
Ten out the fifteen squad players from the 2005 Play-off final were free transfers including Glenn Whelan, Chris Brunt, Lee Peacock and Captain Wonderful Lee Bullen.
It’s worth remembering that just because players are free, their wages often make the transfer an expensive mistake. Simon Donnelly and Phil O’Donnell spring to mind in Dave Richards’ money pit.
When you look through the list of ‘frees’ we’ve had, the majority are a catalogue of the mediocre; Paul Heffernan, Jon Otsemobor, Julian Bennett and Nejc Pečnik just a few to forget.
Like all free gifts, some you love and some just turn out to be another pair of socks.
Merry Christmas and Up The Owls.