Scottish Daily Mail
Alexander unhappy at SFA rules that allow players to strike early deals with rival clubs
You don’t get that down south. I don’t think it’s right and it needs to be looked at
GRAHAM Alexander wants Scottish football to fall into line with England by amending the current rules on the signing of pre-contract agreements.
The Motherwell manager believes it’s unfair on all parties if Tony Watt faces Dundee United for the Fir Park side next month when the striker has already committed to move to Tannadice in the summer.
English FA rules only permit players to sign for another competing club one month from the end of a contract, which is normally around the end of the season.
Now Alexander, who spent all of his playing days south of the border, feels the SFA registration rules should follow suit for the benefit of all involved.
‘It’s a strange situation, the pre-contract thing,’ he said. ‘You don’t experience that in England — players signing pre-contracts and being able to play against the team they are joining in the same league.
‘I think it’s something that needs to be looked at. I don’t think it’s right, but it is what it is so we have to deal with it and we’re trying to deal with it in the best way we can.’
Dundee United will try to accelerate the transfer of the Premiership’s top scorer Watt this week, with Motherwell already viewing Partick Thistle striker Zak Rudden as a possible replacement.
Until any agreement is struck, however, the Fir Park manager will remain happy for former Celtic star Watt to remain a big part of his plans.
Asked if he would have any hesitation in playing him against his future employers on February 9, he said: ‘If he’s still here, no. At all the clubs I’ve managed, I’ve fallen out with players and things have been going on outside of football but, as long as they come in and train well, I’ll consider selecting them.
‘There are always issues that can muddy the water and distract footballers but, ultimately, players want to train and play.
‘They’re paid to do that so, if Tony is still with us when we play United, I’d have no qualms whatsoever about picking him.
‘Tony has assured me that he will crack on and be committed to Motherwell as long as he’s our player and that’s all I ask of anyone.’
Alexander also remains philosophical about the prospect of his players moving on elsewhere.
‘All the players are at different stages of leaving the club — because they all do eventually, whether it’s next week, in six months or three years from now,’ he said.
‘But while they are here I expect that commitment and I don’t anticipate anything different from Tony.’
Watt has spoken extensively in the past about how settled he felt at Motherwell.
His eleventh club in a nomadic career, the 28-year-old previously said he believed that he had found ‘a home’ at Fir Park. Those words sound a little hollow now, in truth.
Yet Alexander was not hugely surprised when the player told him of his intentions to move to Dundee United sooner or later.
‘I’ve been there as a professional myself and you have to marry your professional ambitions, your love for your job and your club with providing for your family and your future,’ said the 50-year-old former Scotland international defender.
‘That decision can change as you get older and you understand life and your career.
‘That’s why none of us can sit as managers and former players and say the money side doesn’t come into it — because we all want to earn good money and provide for our families.
‘There’s a balance. You only get one career and you want to finish it by playing in loads of games and scoring loads of goals and winning things. There’s always that.
‘I don’t know every individual player’s personal circumstances and I certainly don’t know their mortgages, bank balances and outlays, so I respect that every man has to make a decision in terms of what is right for himself and his family.
‘I understand the contract that he (Watt) will sign is worth considerably more than we could offer at Motherwell. That’s the scenario.
‘The football situation could be argued from both sides. I’m not surprised (Watt is leaving) as I have been in the game a long time and I made difficult decisions in my own career.
‘I’m not disappointed either. Tony is fully committed to his football at Motherwell while he’s being paid by Motherwell.
‘That’s the most you can ask from a player that, while they are with you and representing the club, they give their utmost.
‘He has talked about the home he has found here with us at Motherwell but sometimes you have to move home.’