In one of the best scenes of Jerry Maguire, Rod Tidwell (a brilliant Cuba Gooding Junior) is annoyed by his lack of a new contract, blaming his agent Jerry Maguire (Tom Cruise) for too much ‘talking’ and that his team mates are getting paid far more than he is. He doesn’t refer to his new contract in monetary terms, no, he refers to it as “the kwan”:
Rod Tidwell: Maybe you don’t. Because it’s not just the money I deserve. It’s not just the “coin.” It’s the… – “the kwan”.
Jerry Maguire: That’s your word?
Rod Tidwell: Yeah, man, it means love, respect, community… and the dollars too. The package. The kwan.
Jerry Maguire: But how did you get “kwan?”
Rod Tidwell: I got there from “coin,” dude. Coin, coin… kwaaaan.
“The kwan” is the sporting equivalent of the Homeric kudos. It is not just about getting a lucrative deal, it is about getting parity with your fellow players, the amount you deserve as a footballer, rugby player or whatever. I don’t necessarily believe that the kwan is the be all and end all to footballers, I think its more of a mindset, especially those earning a lot of money in sport. The regular joe on the street does not understand “kwan”, as for the sports star, the exceptional amount of money now does not matter, what matters is the parity with his team mates, and his value ot the team as a whole. Two footballers have recently been in the news over not getting the kwan, and their desire for new contracts. Both have yet to receive the offer they have wanted and their displeasure at their clubs reluctance to offer them what they want has been splashed across the newspapers.
The first, Joe Cole is currently earning about 80k a week, and his contract expires in the summer. He allegedly wants in excess of 100k a week, nearer what Chelsea and England team mates John Terry and Frank Lampard earn. Does he deserve this substantial pay rise?
Joe Cole is 28, and his next contract will possibly be his most lucrative, he is at his footballing peak and has been a loyal servant for Chelsea since 2003, playing over 170 league games. This season however has been one to forget; blighted by injury, he’s played about 4 league games and has seen his place, not just in the first XI but in the England squad taken away. He will probably not go to South Africa. He has also seen his close friends in the Chelsea team get lucrative new deals, such as Lampard, Terry and Ashley Cole, whilst he has had to wait. This could’ve just been down to timing as the new manager this season, Ancelotti seems to not be a fan of his. He might prefer to go out and purchase a younger player, who will be on much lower wages and have greater potential than Cole for the future.
Cole is clearly a gifted footballer who has great natural ability, and he could play for any of the top teams in England. Does he however deserve a new deal on parity with other players who have clearly shown to be more important to Chelsea than he has been? Cole has been replaceable for Chelsea in the last year or so. Its clear that other Chelsea players are more crucial to the club’s success than Cole is. Terry’s leadership and defensive capabilities, along with Lampards goals and set piece taking is more important than Cole’s creative skill. He’s also had his injury problems in the past, which will only get worse with age, and maybe a new club could revitalise his career which has stalled somewhat recently.
Cole is not just the only England international to want a new deal, Shaun Wright Philips has voiced his concern over the new contract offered by Manchester City. He is reportedly on 60k a week, and would like this increased to 75k. The difference with Cole (and there are a couple) is that SWP has got 2 years left on his current contract, not six months and that he has played nearly all of this season, without distinction. It hasn’t helped that SWP dad, the quiet and reserved Ian Wright, blasted Cook and Marwood about not offering his son the deal he apparently deserved. In this situation however, the club holds all the cards, with 2 years remaining on his deal. City can take their time, not having to worry about his contract running out any time soon and not be pressurised (especially by the players dad!) to make a final decision.
The problem for SWP is that this has not endeared him to some fans, who rightly ask whether getting an extra 15k a week on his already big wage is right. This may be moving into Ashley Cole territory, and nobody wants that. It could also be an element with timing for SWP as well, he came in before the new owners did, and Mancini hasn’t warmed to him like Hughes did. What has also caused the problem is that there are others in the team on MASSIVE money. Adebayor is reportedly earning 175k a week. Why shouldn’t SWP get less than half of what he’s earning? Is that right? Should his kwan demands be met?
The similarities between these two players can be traced to their respective clubs, and their transfer dealings. Both have been subjected to takeovers by wealthy ‘sugar daddy’s’ who have spent big on bringing new faces on big money to the club. Wage structures have gone out of the window, and naturally in these situations, footballers will get extremely annoyed about wage parity. Bringing one superstar on big wages may not change much, bringing quite a few will certainly rock the boat. SWP probably feels a little unappreciated considering all the new faces and their huge contracts that have recently come to the club. I’m sure he just wants to be valued as they are. To the average man on the street, this would seem ludicrous, they earn massive money any way, why do you need an extra 10k on the millions you make a year? But to a footballer in the dressing room, its about being valued, getting respect and probably a bit of jealousy too. Shaun Wright Phillips wants his Kwan, and he wants it bad.
Does this mean that the sugar daddy culture is infeasible in the long term? How is a high wage structure sustainable when players will be arguing over parity? This would be especially hard for clubs in the future where wages and turnover may be linked for European qualification. City have had their dressing room problems this year, and by all accounts it still isn’t happy now. Maybe they bought the wrong kind of player, or they’ve gone for superstars when they would have needed to take things slower. Chelsea have taken a more measured approach recently, but even they aren’t immune to problems with wages, especially when they are trying to move to a self sustainable model, of which Peter Kenyon was so successful.
Will Joe Cole move? It is certainly up to him. I can’t see Chelsea budging too much on what they’ve offered unless he starts to seriously perform on the pitch. Sir Alex Ferguson and Harry Redknapp are both long term admirers of Cole and would take him on a free transfer. Would he however, earn what he wants by moving to those clubs? Will anyone show Joe or Shaun the money?