NEILL BURNS HIS BRIDGES AT HAMMERS
£600,000 salary dispute breaks down
LUCAS NEILL doesn’t have a football club, so far, this season. So he isn’t earning a salary from one.
The 31-year-old defender’s contract at West Ham United ended on June 30 after the two sides failed to agree terms.
West Ham wanted their captain to take a hefty pay cut – partly dictated by the new financial reality at the club; partly because, maybe, at £60,000-a-week he was being over-paid anyway.
After all, Neill signed up for West Ham two-and-a-half years ago when the club, under Eggert Magnusson, was splashing the cash (remember that £85,000-aweek deal for Freddie Ljungberg?) and turned down Liverpool and Champions League football for a relegation scrap at Upton Park.
But Neill, after a patchy period, did well for West Ham. And West Ham did well for the Australian.
A wage of £60,000-a-week – that’s £240,000 a month so, over roughly 30 months, that’s £7.2 million. For a right-back. A good one but not a great one.
So West Ham wanted him to be paid, it’s understood, £30,000a-week and offered a two-year deal. Neill refused.
After all, others at the club were earning far more, and he was the captain. Also this was probably his last Premier League contract so he stood his ground.
West Ham also offered him two years – it’s thought Neill proposed 12 months at more like £50,000 to £60,000 a week.
Negotiations continued and, in fairness, West Ham relented, upping their offer. Now it’s thought they would pay £35,000a-week plus appearance and bonus money, taking Neill to within a couple of thousand pounds of £50,000-a-week.
Again he refused. So his contract ran out and since the end of June he’s not been paid.
So, if we take the £35,000 basic wage and multiply that over, say, seven weeks then Neill has missed out on £245,000.
It’s a staggering figure but so are virtually all estimates of footballers’ wages.
But if Neill and West Ham were, approximately, £10,000 apart then he has, in not receiving any money, already missed out on almost half a year of that difference.
In the mean time Neill, a free agent, has spoken to Sunderland and Galatasaray while West Ham manager Gianfranco Zola has become puzzled and angry by his now for mer player’s stance. “I’m sorry about this situation, but I don’t understand and don’t want to comment,” Zola said.
“He was in talks with West Ham, then I find out he was in talks with Galatasaray and with Sunderland.
“Now I don’t know what’s going on.
“But he’s out, and that’s no good for him. For the moment, he’s not our priority in that position.”
In other words, goodbye.
SHORTFALL: Lucas Neill is already £245,000 out of pocket.