Culina axing proves contracts worth nothing
With the sacking of Branko Culina under acrimonious circumstances still fresh in everyone’s mind, the question must be asked: why would you want to be an A-League coach? It seems a contract can be broken whenever a club sees fit.
Culina was given his marching orders by the Newcastle Jets just five days before the start of the new A-League campaign only hours after he fronted the season launch, discussing the chances of his team. It would be safe to believe the decision to sack him was made prior.
On the face of it, there was no reason to sack Culina at all, with the club looking good on the field, having gone through pre-season undefeated.
This was a man who only last October, when billionaire mining magnate Nathan Tinkler and his Hunter Sports Group (HSG) saved the Jets from financial oblivion, was given a contract extension till 2015.
At the crux of the decision appears to be the knee injury suffered by his son Jason earlier in pre-season, which has ruled out him out of the entire campaign.
Culina Jnr had signed a deal believed to be worth $2.4m over three years to become the Jets’ marquee player.
This injury was different to the knee injury he suffered during the Asian Cup in January that forced him to miss the rest of the previous A-League season with former club Gold Coast United.
However, as the injury was on the same knee, the injury was deemed to be pre-existing, meaning the insurance company wouldn’t cover the cost of the contract, leaving Tinkler and the Jets out of pocket.
The Jets claim via independent medical advice that Jason would be unlikely to return, possibly not before his three-year contract ends, and asked for his contract to be ‘set aside’, meaning that Tinkler would not have to pay out his contract.
They have offered no compensation to either man, which doesn’t seem right.
After all, the Jets’ football advisory board were responsible for bringing Jason to the club not his father Branko. This was admitted by the head of the board Ray Baartz in mid-September.
The club claimed they performed due diligence in investigating Jason’s previous injury. Now that he has suffered this new injury, the board has apparently made the decision to wash their hands of someone when they are down and deemed that as Branko is Jason’s father it gives reason to sack him too.
To me, it seems like blatant incompetence on the Jets part.
According to figures released earlier this week by the League Managers Association (LMA) who represent managers in the Premier League and Football League, the cost of compensation in changing managers amounted to £99m during the 2010-11 campaign.
This seems an extraordinary amount of money to pay sacked coaches.
The LMA also announced that 58 managers had lost their jobs last season. This hire and fire culture is clearly not helpful. Between October 2010 and February 2011, 25 English Football League clubs opted to sack their manager.
But, one of the most interesting facts I garnered from the report was that Championship (First Division) managers who were sacked in 2010-11 had an average tenure of less than a year.
These are not good statistics if you are seeking long term job security. They show that there needs to be a bit more realism by owners in reaching their targeted ambitions.
Sir Alex Ferguson, who has been in charge of Manchester United for almost 25 years, sees the lack of managerial job security as one of the game’s biggest problems.
“It’s always a problem in modern-day management,” Ferguson said.
“You see time and time again that these guys are only in a position a year before the clubs are sacking them.”
As someone who has been in a role the length of time he has, and had incredible success, he is in the best place to talk about such issues.
A contract is a contract and unless there is a good reason for it to be terminated, it should be honoured.
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