By Chris Wright
Eng-lish Pre·mi·um/ing’liSH ˈprēmēəm/Noun: An amount to be paid on top of any given football transfer fee to recognise the paltry significance of said footballer hailing from these sceptred isles and will hopefully therefore play with ‘bags of passion’, etc…
In no particular order, a ten-some of English footballers that, through no fault of their own, have suffered at the hands of the cursed ‘English Premium’ transfer fee…
Connor Wickham: £8.1 million (potentially rising to £12 million), Ipswich to Sunderland, 2010: Granted, the first pick is a little specious as Wickham is still only 18-years old and a fair old distance from being the finished article. That said, after seeing him play a couple of times for both Ipswich and Sunderland and, barring that goal against Sheffield United, I just cannot see for the life of me what all the fuss is supposed to be about.
Wickham just looks very ‘meat and potatoes’ to mine eye, a money pit waiting to happen – though, of course, I’d be more than happy to be proved wrong.
Seth Johnson: £7 million, Derby to Leeds, 2001: As you can probably fathom from the fee involved, Johnson moved to Elland Road during that heady period in Leeds’ history that almost no-one refers to as the club’s ‘willy-nilly’ years.
The story goes that, after agreeing with his agent beforehand to accept nothing less than £13,000-a-week during contract negotiations with Peter Ridsdale, the pair gasped in tandem when the Leeds chairman offered Johnson a whopping £30,000-a-week. Ridsdale took this as a sign that his opening offer had been far too low and slung another few thousand on top. One imagines the contract was hurriedly signed shortly thereafter.
A hard-working-bordering-on-bog-standard English clatter-merchant if ever there was, Johnson played a little over 50 times for Leeds in four years (largely due to injuries) before returning to Derby where he suffered a career-ending knee knack in the 2007 Play-Off Final at Wembley.
Carl Cort: £7 million, Wimbledon to Newcastle, 2000: A yomping centre-forward who wreaked havoc up top for Wimbledon in his early days, it’s fair to say that Sir Bobby Robson fluffed a relative fortune on Cort – who made next to no impact at Newcastle due to a string of debilitating injury problems and a crippling lack of consistency.
Moved to Wolves in 2004 after making 22 league starts in four years at St James’ Park and enjoyed moderate success in the Old Gold.
Kevin Davies: £7.25 million, Southampton to Blackburn, 1998: After making a name for himself during Chesterfield’s incredible run to the FA Cup semi-finals the year previous, Davies moved to Southampton for £750,000 and continued to turn heads as he blustered through centre-backs hither and thither.
The very next summer, Blackburn hastily threw shed-loads of cash at the Saints for a 21-year-old, largely-unproven target man and got sod all out of him – one league goal in nearly 30 appearances to be precise. Davies burgeoning reputation was shot in the space of a season and to make matters all the worse, Rovers were also relegated.
Davies moved back to Southampton for a few years, where he found himself continuously in and – to a much more frequent degree – out of the side before eventually jumping ship to Bolton where, belatedly, he finally got his act together.
David Bentley: £15 million, Blackburn to Tottenham, 2008: Bentley was integral at Blackburn for a couple of glorious years, whipping in endless ream of sumptuous crosses in for Roque Santa Cruz from the right flank and, at one point, looked like the natural successor to David Beckham in the England set-up.
Moved onwards and upwards to Spurs for far too much, found himself knocked down the pecking order almost immediately by the emerging Aaron Lennon and, consumed by his