Basically, the subject of controversy is Dean Saunders. I’ve been feeling favourably disposed towards him, while my wife and lad are more inclined to see him as a backstabber. It’s a difference of opinion which certainly spices up Sunday morning breakfasts as we take sides when Doncaster Rovers come on!
However, the news in this morning’s paper might just have made me swap sides. It’s reported that Saunders will return to The Racecourse to snap up Lee Fowler by activating a £20,000 buy-out clause in his contract. My first reaction to such stories isn’t usually to assume that they’re true: the truth is that, apart from the Leader and The Post it’s rare that a media outlet will bother to get the inside track on a story about Wrexham before printing it, so it’s usually safe to ignore them. This one, though, is different. The fact that it’s Stuart Hammonds, the excellent chief reporter at the NLP and someone that knows Fowler beyond conducting post-match press conferences with him, tells me to take it seriously. It’s my understanding that this story is real.
If so, it’s hard to take. Quite apart from the fact that we were most accommodating in letting Saunders leave when we could have demanded compensation and made matters protracted if not downright difficult, and he repays us by coming back and pinching a key player, the fact that he appears to be taking advantage of his inside knowledge of a Wrexham player’s contract leaves me feeling uneasy.
We shouldn’t have been too surprised to see Saunders, our most valuable employee according to the balance sheet, leave for nothing. After all, his chum Geoff Moss was hardly likely to stand in his way, and judging by the way we’ve handed away assets under him as Saunders was allowed to jettison players whose faces didn’t fit, it’s hardly a shock to see us fail to get the market value for one of our employees. Hopefully the WST won’t be drawn into that sort of deal-brokering.
They may have no way of influencing this deal though; indeed, by the time they take over it might be done. It would certainly hurt our promotion credentials to lose perhaps the hardest of our outfield players to replace; just look at how we toiled yesterday to break down a stubborn Ebbsfleet rearguard without his incisive passing for proof.
If this story is indeed true, it could have a profound impact on our season. It’ll also alter forever how I watch Doncaster matches.