Joe Cole’s unreal Aston Villa contract
It’s arguable that Aston Villa’s new signing Joe Cole would have earned millions in the American MLS league and taken his pick from exciting major cities to live in like New York, Los Angeles or Miami. The ex-Chelsea midfielder could have also lived off his past glory to get a decent contract in France or even Spain, where the pace of the game my have suited him better. Alas not though, instead, he opted for sunny Birmingham and a struggling Aston Villa team faced with the uncertainty of being sold to a new owner.
But why did Cole sign? How did this happen?
Well, it’s been revealed by sources that Aston Villa’s finance team have developed an enticing new style of player contract known as the ‘blank page’ contract or a ‘Blankety, Blank’, as it has been nicknamed in the legal profession.
Apparently, the fact that Lerner is in the process of selling the club has opened up a loophole where the costs of all signings are transferred to the new incoming owner through a bit of perfectly legal back-end creative accounting. Essentially, it renders the cost of any new signing irrelevant to the Lerner estate.
Taking advantage of the limbo ‘for sale’ period of Aston Villa, which allows this, the Lerner-endorsed ‘Blankety Blank’ contract allows a player to essentially devise his own contract. The only stipulation is that demands have to be ‘within reason’. That’s right, a player can effectively write his own contract, because the Villa chairman won’t have to pay a dime of it.
Phillipe Senderos was the first player to sign the unique contract devised by Villa. It’s reported that despite Senderos testing the waters by writing up a contract for £75,000-a-week, the ‘within reason’ clause meant his wage had around two-thirds shaved off it after the arbitration committee showed videos from his time at Arsenal . Other clauses Senderos inserted due to his status as an international centre-back, such as a guaranteed starting place and the Villa captaincy, were also nullified as it was considered that being a back-up centre-back for the Swiss national team in an ideal world, wouldn’t be good enough for him to be considered for a Villa squad.
Joe Cole though by comparison came up trumps with his contract. From the terms that have been leaked to MOMS, we know he asked for and was granted the use of Lerner’s private jet to get him up and down from London to Birmingham for training and Villa home games. The ‘within reason’ clause was passed, as Cole stated that Lerner never uses his plane to visit Villa Park anymore, so it was fair game.
Cole’s greatest coup was securing a £400,000-a-week wage for himself, which the new owners of Aston Villa will have to foot the bill for. How did that pass the ‘within reason’ test? Well, Lionel Messi is reportedly on £380,000-a-week, and as Cole reminded the arbitration committee, in 2010 the current England captain Steven Gerrard had declared: ‘Anything Messi can do, Joe can do as well, if not better’. As an England captain’s word is sacrosanct, Cole’s claim to a better wage than Messi was perfectly ‘within reason’.
Who’d want to be the new owner of Villa now?! UTV
PS – Look closely at that contract that Cole is signing! To our overseas friends, ‘Blankety Blank’ was a British comedy game show popular in the 1980’s.
A Venglos View is a satirical (and sometimes surreal) look at the Villa. Check out other Venglos Views here