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Players have taken power from clubs, says O'Neill

 Manchester United's Wayne Rooney reacts against Marseille during their Champions League first knockout stage second leg soccer match at Old Trafford,...
 Manchester United's Wayne Rooney celebrates a goal from teammate Dimitar Berbatov during their English Premier League soccer match against Bolton Wan...

Britain Soccer Champions League

Manchester United's Wayne Rooney reacts against Marseille during their Champions League first knockout stage second leg soccer match at Old Trafford,...

Britain Soccer Premier League

Manchester United's Wayne Rooney celebrates a goal from teammate Dimitar Berbatov during their English Premier League soccer match against Bolton Wan...

The power in football has shifted from clubs to their players, former Aston Villa manager Martin O'Neill told a British parliamentary inquiry into the national sport on Tuesday.
The 59-year-old O'Neill said that shift was evident when Wayne Rooney handed in a transfer request at Manchester United in October and ended up being rewarded with a more lucrative five-year deal.
"You would hope that if you sign a player, for instance, on a four-year deal that you would have some control (over their future)," O'Neill told legislators. "But really the control has left the football clubs and gone to the players and therefore the agents. I think that is one of the major changes I have seen to the game."
In a highly successful career on the pitch, O'Neill played at Norwich, Manchester City and Nottingham Forest, where he won the top flight league title, two League Cups, and two European Cups.
"When I started out, the player had no control whatsoever to the behest of the football club and now it has gone a full circle," the former Northern Ireland midfielder said. "The players are now in charge now, which is a bit of a shame really."
One of the factors behind the shift was the fallout from the 1995 Bosman ruling by the European Court of Justice, which established the free movement of players in the European Union whose contracts had expired.
O'Neill said agents can now "manipulate situations" on the behalf of players.
"The fallout from (the Bosman ruling) was extensive," O'Neill said. "So much so that we're possibly debating the idea that football itself could have its own rules. I think there is certainly a case for that because the minute there was a possibility of a player having a bit of difficulty with his contract suddenly he could go to European law and find a loophole that sorts things out.
"Clubs were finding out loopholes as they were going along. For instance, a player with two years left on his contract was in a position ... that he could actually get out of his contract."
Tuesday's session also heard from former Reading and Crystal Palace manager Steve Coppell, who played for Manchester United, and ex-English Football Association chief executive Ian Watmore.


Updated : 2021-06-18 10:19 GMT+08:00