Gazump or Gazunder?
Gazumping happens when a seller who has already accepted one buyer's offer then goes on to accept a higher offer, pushing the first buyer out of the picture. It can come about at any point before contracts are exchanged, as until the papers are signed there is no legal obligation to either buy or sell.
It`s complicated further when the asset decides they have a mind of their own and refuses to be bought by a branch of the Russian State asset robbers.
The first buyer stands to lose out on the player of his or her dreams, but that might be avoided, Exclusivity agreements can help to avoid gazumping. These involve the seller (or player) signing an agreement that states that during a specified exclusivity period, he or she will not enter into any agreement with anyone else. In football that can mean signing a pre-contract, which depending on which legal M'lud you agree with is either binding, or not.
Are Pre-Contracts binding? Well, yes and No..
Clear as Mud
The enforceability of a pre-contract will depend on the specific terms of the agreement. Pre-contracts are generally not binding under English law as they are usually marked 'Subject to Contract` and are simply a commitment by the parties to enter into a later contract; they appear to be about as enforceable as a verbal agreement. The difference between a pre-contract and a contract is that the parties to the pre-contract have not agreed the essential terms and so the pre-contract does not reflect the final agreement, which gives the agent and the clubs agents/acquisition team lots of wiggle room and time to make 'must have` adjustments.
Eureka moments for 'gotta haves'
Of course this also means that at any time the player might throw a wobble and insist upon being loved up first - an even more expensive project, as it generally involves the demand and eventual payment of a massive 'happy to see you` via an agents off-shore invoice from their paradise paper account; detailed 'Players Global marketing rights'.
Pre-Final Contract lastminute.wonga demands
If a pre-contract contains all the essential terms that have been agreed, then the pre-contract is effectively a final contract and is likely to be binding, most greedy agents tend to avoid this like the plague as agreements like this really do make agents contemplate rather extreme measures such as buying journalists drinks, and generally keeps them awake at night (almost nothing else does) as it stops them from making utterly ludicrous and ridiculous demands at the last moment for the buying club to also show that they love him, massively.
Gazundering is a phenomenon more common to a buyers market, This is where the buyer gets to be a real meanie to the selling club by waiting until the player is almost out of contract and only then making it known to the selling club that they want to do a deal; the player is suddenly incredibly excited at the prospect of joining this buying club and of course was oblivious to any interest that they may or may not have expressed in him privately, either by 'player to player` exchanges (never can an admission of an approach whilst still under contract to your existing club be made, as according to the arcane out of date rules, that would be a bona fide 'tapping up' and a conspiracy of shaking heads whilst maintaining a blank expression under written questioning is advised to work every time - it works even better when the player lies through his teeth and expresses a desire to return back from whence he came).
Typical deal preparation
e.g. Tottenham player on international duty/player of the year dinner/PFA awards (amazing how much early biz gets brought up in passing at the dinner table by one player to another);
"Hello Rossi Blokey, my gaffer thinks you`re pretty good, but you really need to improve to be very very good` and he`s the coach to get you there…"
Rossi: " I want to be consistently very very good and loved like you, can he do that for me?"
Tottenham player: "Guaranteed bruv"..
Or if you prefer
The good old agents network:
Agent 1: Hello agent 2, you still looking after Rossi Inconsistent Blokey?
Agent 2: Yeah, but he`s sick to death of playing for a club that doesn`t know how to develop him ..and his new gaffer is a disaster waiting to happen.
Agent 1: Cool, hypothetically I might know a coach/club that`s willing to take him up a level both as a player and a man. They could make him very very good, maybe even a superstar - just have a look what his track record of producing young players is already.
Agent 1: Yeah, but are that club going anywhere and will they meet my demands, eerrr no I mean will they meet my clients reasonable requests?
Agent 1: "hold on, I`ll ask Agent 3, he`s the one with the inside track on the clubs secret inner desires:
Agent2: "What! I thought that was you?"
Agent 1: "Well I am, but I`m splitting the vast life changing commission with Agent 3 as I`m not quite licensed …"
Occasionally it`s further complicated as everybody is poised to exchange contracts and then the potential buyer lowers their offer on the player, or waits right until the last day to put in a really low ball offer…
If the seller refuses, the whole chain might then collapse, sometimes but not often an impaired (injured to the non-finance peoples) asset may affect everyone's thinking and it's ground hog day.
The Splinter Conundrum
Of course, all of this can be rendered pointless if another club really really wants him to add to their bench warmers and is willing to pay a vast hello fee and disgraceful amounts of wedge to pull splinters out of his backside for almost every league / Champions league game; an example of that might well be one ex-Spurs Player, who finally realising that he could do better than where he`d been finally joined us, but not after having wasted, sorry spent much of his career not improving and not playing but making himself consistently rich for doing not very much.
Well Mr.Rossi Blokey, what will you do?
Are we all agreed, wouldn't Mr.Inconsistent Blokey be an absolute fabulous improving asset for us, a true win-win?
Oh the joys of the next window creep ever nearer.