• Michael McColl

      Editor

      Michael McColl started "Away From The Numbers" as a printed fanzine in 1989 for his Scottish club East Fife. It became a website in 2003 and added a general football blog in 2009. The focus has always been to mix serious articles with off-beat humour pieces. The Canadian arm of AFTN began in 2009 and is primarily focused on Vancouver Whitecaps.


      Currently a weekly columnist for Metro News Vancouver, Michael has also written for many UK publications including When Saturday Comes, Four Four Two and The Independent.


    • Steve Pandher

      Assistant Editor

      Steve has been a soccer fan since the early days of the 86ers at Swangard Stadium. He started The Whitecaps Beat blog on the instistence of his wife, as she was tired of listening to his ramblings about the club. When he plays, his two positions are goalkeeper and striker, mostly because of the lack of running involved. In addition to the Whitecaps, Steve also updates the play of Canadian players abroad with the @TrueNorthSoccer twitter account.

    • Jay Duke

      Writer

      Growing up as a casual soccer fan, Jay became a fervent supporter after a move to Vancouver and a rise in profile of the Vancouver Whitecaps. Since then, his summer road trips revolve around Cascadia Derbies, and friends weddings are only to be attended if they do not conflict with a Whitecaps match.

      Jay attempts to share his thoughts from the emotional view of a supporter rather than by advanced analytics or number crunching.

    • Aaron Campbell

      Writer

      Aaron Campbell is our new face to the soccer blog scene. He started following the Whitecaps seriously when they joined the MLS and has been hooked ever since. Not afraid to speak his mind and prove he is right in his opinions backing them up with the stats of the game.

      Yeah right. The only reason he goes to games is to get away from his small army of kids that he has populated the Fraser Valley with. One day the kids and wife will catch on!!!

      Supporter of Whitecaps FC and FC Barcelona.
      Follow on twitter @AaCamp81

    • Bocanegra transfer could be bogged down in legal wrangling

      It's either one of the worst kept Whitecaps transfer secrets ever, or a rumour that has grown more arms and legs than a mutated octopus.

      The 'Carlos Bocanegra to Vancouver' transfer saga has gone on for months now, with Scottish media reporting this week that it is basically a done deal.

      As soon as the plight of crisis club Rangers became unmanageable, clubs and fans all over looked at what Gers players could be pillaged if they went to the wall.

      That time has now come, and it may be very vulturesque, but considering the way the Old Firm have plundered the talents of smaller Scottish League clubs over the years, it is also very fitting and enjoyable.

      Carlos Bocanegra is genuinely one of the few prize catches, but landing him may not be quite that easy.

      At 33 years old, you're looking at a player who still has a lot to give and has invaluable experience at the top levels of the game.

      He's played in the English Premiership, in France and in Scotland. He's played in European club competitions and has over 100 international caps for the US.

      He is the Captain of his country and the Vice-Captain of his club.

      Bocanegra could easily go and play again in the Premiership, or elsewhere in Europe. He is sure to be in demand.

      At some point in a player's life though, he's going to either want to go home, or, as in the case of someone like Barry Robson, start a new life for his family in the last few year's of his playing career.

      Bocanegra left the US to go and play in England in January 2004. He was 24 and has been away from his home for over eight years now. The time may be right for him to return to North America and play out his career in Major League Soccer.

      Under MLS Roster Rules, Section 2A "Allocation Ranking":

      "The allocation ranking is the mechanism used to determine which MLS club has first priority to acquire a U.S. National Team player who signs with MLS after playing abroad, or a former MLS player who returns to the League after having gone to a club abroad for a transfer fee. The allocation rankings may also be used in the event two or more clubs file a request for the same player on the same day when the discovery period opens in December. The allocations will be ranked in reverse order of finish for the 2011 season, taking playoff performance into account.

      Once the club uses its allocation ranking to acquire a player, it drops to the bottom of the list. A ranking can be traded, provided that part of the compensation received in return is the other club’s ranking. At all times, each club is assigned one ranking. The rankings reset at the end of each MLS League season."


      Unless you've been living in a glass bubble for the last few months, you'll have seen all the rumours around of Bocanegra making the move to Vancouver to partner his friend Jay DeMerit in the centre of the Whitecaps defence.

      The Caps are currently number one in the "Allocation Ranking" and would have first choice on Bocanegra. They could sign him, trade him or simply pass.

      There were some concerns that his previous club of four years, Chicago Fire, may still hold his MLS rights, but this was earlier confirmed not to be the case after he was transferred to Fulham for a cash fee.

      All good news for Vancouver Whitecaps, but it's still not all that simple.

      Here's one of the many new twists in the Rangers saga that has come out today.

      Two Rangers players, Sone Aluko and Rhys McCabe, are reported to have said no to a new contract with the "newco" and say they are walking away.

      They have lodged official objections from their lawyers and are said to be actively seeking new clubs.

      They are the first of possibly many players to do so, although some, like former Scottish international Lee McCulloch, have pledged their future to the new Gers.

      Bocanegra has given no indication either way, although he previously said he would quit the club if he was asked to take another pay cut.

      Players moving on is where it all starts to get a bit cloudy and complicated.

      Under European Law, there are two ways to read how footballers are affected.

      One is that their contract is automatically transferred to the "newco" as long as the same terms are offered. The other is that as it's a different business, they can walk away.

      The new owners of Rangers say the former, the players' union (PFA Scotland) says otherwise and that the players can walk away as free agents.

      Nobody knows for 100% certainty.

      It falls under the edict of the 'Transfer of Undertakings (Protection of Employment) Regulations 2006', or TUPE as it is now commonly part of the Scottish language with all this. TUPE is the UK's implementation of the EU's 'Business Transfers Directive'.

      Rangers players will now likely be a test case, with the club saying that they just can't walk away and are likely to challenge it in a court of law.

      If it was only to be these two players, they may not bother. McCabe is not a big star and Aluko's contract was thought to be expiring this summer with an option anyway.

      If others now start to quickly follow, as is expected, and especially some of the more valuable assets like Bocanegra, then they won't just sit back and allow that without some kicking and screaming.

      This will all take weeks, if not months. Like so many things with this Rangers farce, it leaves the game in an absolute mess.

      So what happens to the player?

      Players' registrations lie with the Scottish Football Association (SFA) and they have made no comments on the matter at all.

      It is now up the SFA to decide if the contracts can be released or transferred. If there is then a dispute then FIFA, and undoubtedly the courts, would get involved.

      So if the Caps want the US international how can they get him?

      Well the easiest option would be that they just simply pay Rangers a transfer fee.

      But why would you do that if you could get the player for nothing? Never mind giving money to a club that has cheated and cost many other clubs and businesses a lot of money.

      All the Rangers players that want to leave may be granted a temporary transfer.

      What that means is that if Bocanegra says he wants to go, then the SFA will say ok and the Caps can sign him.

      It would then be up to Rangers to go after the player and the Caps for compensation.

      If nothing can be worked out, then FIFA will get involved, and the unlikeliest of all outcomes would be that he would have to move back to Scotland.

      There has been a similar situation in the past involving a Scottish club, known as the Webster Ruling.

      In summary, Andy Webster was a Hearts player that used updated FIFA transfer regulations in 2006 to invoke freedom of movement rights under European Union laws to leave the Scottish club and join Wigan Athletic in the English premiership, despite still being under contract.

      Hearts fought the move and initially refused to release his papers and FIFA intervened.

      Hearts valued the player at £5 million. FIFA awarded them £625,000 as a transfer fee, to be paid by Webster and not Wigan. The Court of Arbitration for Sport then got involved after Hearts appealed, and reduced the fee down to £150,000!

      As you can see, it was a complete shambles then and still is.

      Getting Carlos Bocanegra to Vancouver would not be without it's headaches and possible legal wrangling, but to add a player of that quality, to already one of the best defences in MLS, it is more than worth administrative hassle involved.

      Will it happen? Will it happen soon? Watch this space...

      Comments 8 Comments
      1. Unregistered's Avatar
        Unregistered -
        The Whitecaps should spend the money that could be spent on Bocanegra on strengthening their program instead.

        Say they took $300k threw it into their foundation and partnered with a second PDL team or with UBC, SFU, TWU, UFV, UVic etc to make their college programs help the club's interests? Could they work on re-creating something similar to what they apparently have in Akron, Ohio? Is it worth having a second PDL team given NCAA eligibility rules (cannot play on same team with professionals)? What about even say a PCSL team or something as a backup to the PDL program?Hiring more coaches for more individualised coaching work? Better statistical analysis of players in the program to better communicate to players what they need to improve or do to get to the next level? Live streams/recordings of all team games (academy-PDL team) for better aficionado and coach player assessment?

        In the long an medium term the club would be much better off.
      1. Unregistered's Avatar
        Unregistered -
        They're already spending money on the program... Get Bocanegra!
      1. Unregistered's Avatar
        Unregistered -
        I'm no legal expert (says the man about to give a legal opinion) but I'm pretty sure that Rangers couldn't stop Bocanegra from playing where he wanted.

        The most that they could do would be to seek some kind of financial recompense through legal means, a process that they may or may not find attractive given their current problems.

        I'm also fairly sure that such a process would either be nigh on impossible or incredibly protracted and expensive given that Bocanegra would be working in North America and not the EU.

        I think that if he wanted to join the Whitecaps he could, in all likelihood do so.

        Russell Berrisford
      1. Michael McColl's Avatar
        Michael McColl -
        Quote Originally Posted by Unregistered View Post
        I'm no legal expert (says the man about to give a legal opinion) but I'm pretty sure that Rangers couldn't stop Bocanegra from playing where he wanted.

        The most that they could do would be to seek some kind of financial recompense through legal means, a process that they may or may not find attractive given their current problems.

        I'm also fairly sure that such a process would either be nigh on impossible or incredibly protracted and expensive given that Bocanegra would be working in North America and not the EU.

        I think that if he wanted to join the Whitecaps he could, in all likelihood do so.

        Russell Berrisford

        I think it's all pretty much going to boil down to if the SFA decide that he is still contractually obligated to Rangers. It would then be like any other player that can't just go and join someone else as they see fit (although the Webster case says otherwise) without both clubs agreeing.

        That's the big sticking point and a lot is being made in Scotland about loyalty. With him being vice captain, more is being expected of him and the other senior players.

        As we all know, there is very little loyalty left in modern day football.
      1. Michael McColl's Avatar
        Michael McColl -
        Quote Originally Posted by Unregistered View Post
        The Whitecaps should spend the money that could be spent on Bocanegra on strengthening their program instead.

        Say they took $300k threw it into their foundation and partnered with a second PDL team or with UBC, SFU, TWU, UFV, UVic etc to make their college programs help the club's interests? Could they work on re-creating something similar to what they apparently have in Akron, Ohio? Is it worth having a second PDL team given NCAA eligibility rules (cannot play on same team with professionals)? What about even say a PCSL team or something as a backup to the PDL program?Hiring more coaches for more individualised coaching work? Better statistical analysis of players in the program to better communicate to players what they need to improve or do to get to the next level? Live streams/recordings of all team games (academy-PDL team) for better aficionado and coach player assessment?

        In the long an medium term the club would be much better off.
        Very interesting points there.

        The Club do make a huge investment to the Residency already. Could the become the Akron of Canada and what would that mean to national game?

        Next week on AFTN is actually going to be 'Residency Week', so we're chatting with some of the guys and Craig Dalrymple. We'll address some of those issues.

        We'll also look at that big gap between USSDA and PDL level and how these players can not only make the MLS squad but break into the team.
      1. Globetrott's Avatar
        Globetrott -
        $300K won't go very far in their youth program. If they were to win a championship because they spent $300K to get Bocanegra, that would go very far in strengthening the game in BC.
      1. Poor Service's Avatar
        Poor Service -
        Quote Originally Posted by Michael McColl View Post
        I think it's all pretty much going to boil down to if the SFA decide that he is still contractually obligated to Rangers. It would then be like any other player that can't just go and join someone else as they see fit (although the Webster case says otherwise) without both clubs agreeing.

        That's the big sticking point and a lot is being made in Scotland about loyalty. With him being vice captain, more is being expected of him and the other senior players.

        As we all know, there is very little loyalty left in modern day football.
        Loyalty is a two way street. Why should a player be loyal if the club would be willing to ship their ass out as soon as they lose a step? The loyalty argument just longs for the old days when players were beholden to the clubs.
      1. Unregistered's Avatar
        Unregistered -
        Quote Originally Posted by Globetrott View Post
        $300K won't go very far in their youth program. If they were to win a championship because they spent $300K to get Bocanegra, that would go very far in strengthening the game in BC.
        Just different ways of running the club. Winning is partly a byproduct of having the most skilled players.
        We have different views on the best way to compete year in, year out in all competitions ( Voyageurs, CCL, Cascadia, Supporter's Shield, even MLS Cup ). To do this you need depth at all positions. Ideally we're talking about a dynasty and not just one of the championships. It's a lot harder to build a dynasty especially with constraints such as the salary cap (which I agree with and don't mind one iota at its current level).

        From Chris on the Southsiders forum:

        Red Bull New York $12,957,790.88
        Los Angeles Galaxy $12,632,386.49
        Toronto FC $8,250,852.39
        Vancouver Whitecaps FC $4,425,336.53
        DC United $4,188,579.33
        Portland Timbers $4,158,661.29
        Seattle Sounders FC $3,981,973.32
        Philadelphia Union $3,615,062.25
        Real Salt Lake $3,521,095.29
        FC Dallas $3,450,147.04
        Colorado Rapids SC $3,430,955.01
        Columbus Crew $3,325,609.00
        New England Revolution $3,262,613.54
        CD Chivas USA $3,233,054.18
        Chicago Fire SC $3,225,555.03
        San Jose Earthquakes $3,211,334.32
        Sporting Kansas City $3,120,874.37
        Montreal Impact $3,025,864.92
        Houston Dynamo $3,001,091.87

        average $4,737,833.53
        median $3,450,147.04

        I think the median salary is a better measure of the Whitecaps remaining competitive with other MLS teams with respect to player salaries, so let's assume the Whitecaps spent $975,200 per year on some of the development items listed above.

        After 5 years in what scenario could the club be better off? Nothings guaranteed. You could argue either way.
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