NEILL BURNS HIS BRIDGES AT HAM­MERS

£600,000 salary dis­pute breaks down

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - FOOTBALL - JA­SON BURT

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.

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