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Happy New Year to you. There’s no doubt that 2014 is a major sporting year, with the football World Cup, the Commonwealth Games and the Ryder Cup heading an impressive cast list. More immediately, and for fans of the staple diet winter sports of football and rugby union, the speculation will now go through the roof regarding players moving between clubs. Football’s transfer window is open until the end of the month, while in the Aviva Premiership, what I call the negotiation window opens, allowing teams to approach players whose contracts expire in the summer with regard to potentially signing them for next season.

A good friend of mine is not a football fan, but he appreciates the swiftness with which, compared to rugby, deals are done. It is not unusual for a player to impress against a team one Saturday, and be playing for that team the following week. Cheltenham Town winger Jermaine McGlashan is one such example, and I’ll return to his position later.

Contrast that with the speculation, for the last month, regarding two of English rugby’s leading half backs, Toby Flood and Freddie Burns. Flood to Toulouse and Burns to Leicester was the rumour long before the traps were opened at midnight. If both moves go through, the players will then do the gentlemanly thing and fulfil their current deals before joining their new clubs. In the day to day working world, I suppose it is no different to working a notice period, but these players have a different and very public profile.

And so to Jermaine McGlashan at Cheltenham Town. I recall a conversation with a Director at the club last spring where I said I felt Kaid Mohamed would leave the club in the summer. He had been a regular member of the side but, as an individual, he struck me as someone who would decline any contract offer and take his chance as a free agent. Ultimately, that’s exactly what happened, and Mohamed signed for Port Vale.

A month ago, I suggested to a keen Cheltenham follower that the club ought to get ready for interest in McGlashan in this transfer window, and that how they might react would be interesting. The pacy forward is also out contract this summer and, like Mohamed, had played for a clutch of clubs before breaking through at Aldershot. He has made close to 100 appearances in 2 seasons, scored 11 goals, and is the sort of player that will always excite fans because of his unpredictable trickery. The waters are muddied too, by Cheltenham’s league position. Form was poor in the autumn, but a good run of late has pushed them into mid table. The board must decide whether to stick or twist.

In the January 2013 window, Cheltenham had a similar conundrum regarding midfield player Marlon Pack. He never publicly said so, but the club must have known Pack wasn’t going to sign another contract last summer. They accepted a bid from Swindon and the deal was agreed before it collapsed after a change of ownership at the Wiltshire club.

Pack stayed, Cheltenham reached the play-offs, and ultimately got their money from Bristol City when Pack joined them in August. As he was under 24, Cheltenham had the compensation safety net to secure their valuation.12 months on they don’t have that comfort blanket with regards to McGlashan, or an FA Cup windfall to bolster this season’s finances.

At Leicester Tigers, Director of Rugby Richard Cockerill has said he is disappointed Flood is likely to leave, but that no player is bigger than the club. Very true, but a 60 cap England fly half will leave a substantial hole for, in all probability, Gloucester’s Freddie Burns to fill. At Cheltenham Town, Jermaine McGlashan is also an asset – and an asset the board need to find the value of. I would have no issue with McGlashan signing another contract, but if the Board don’t offer one until after the window closes and the player declines it, he could walk away for nothing. Surely the pertinent line to take would be to test the waters now and await his response.

Picture : Copyright http://www.zimbio.com

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