Is there anything more Leeds United than a disappearing contract?
United defender Scott Wootton looks set to leave Elland Road this summer due to a truly bizarre incident involving his contract, or lack thereof.
The Yorkshire Evening Postclaims Wootton put pen to paper on a deal extending his stay in Yorkshire until 2017, but the club never completed the necessary paperwork! Wootton will now be released from the club and is able to seek a new home via a free transfer. Even by United’s dubious standards this is a new level of incompetence.
Now questions over Wootton’s value are valid... but they are beside the point here. How can you let a player sign a contract and not validate it?
I mean, the official Leeds Untied website even broadcast an interview with Wootton shortly after the contract extension was ‘signed.' In the interview, Wootton said: "Obviously I’m very pleased and delighted to have signed a contract extension."
Wootton’s phantom agreement was reached in February 2015, which was coincidently during the period when owner Massimo Cellino was serving a Football League ban. Can we blame everyone’s favourite Italian for this as well?
This isn’t the first time United has run into legal troubles when arranging player contracts during Cellino’s reign. In 2014, Cameron Stewart signed a three-year deal with United only for Cellino to back out as Stewart’s performances declined. United was ultimately ordered to pay Stewart compensation in excess of £500,000 for the shenanigans.
The departure of Wootton will signal the end of a disappointing spell with the club. The 24-year-old entered Leeds with promise. He had risen through the youth ranks at Liverpool before switching to the Merseyside club's bitter rivals Manchester United. And despite loan spells at numerous clubs before joining Leeds in 2013, Wootton was meant help lead United back to the Premier League. Not so fast on that.
Wootton hinted that he was coming for either Tom Lees' or Jason Pearce's role in the centre of defence when he arrived, but hinting was as far as that got.
As we all know, Wootton was versatile enough to play in a number of positions but lacked the quality to become a first team regular. Frequent mistakes, such as this wonderful incident against Watford in the FA Cup, made it impossible to ever feel confident in his ability.
Let’s call it what it is, the utility man struggled mightily in what now looks to be his final season in the Championship. Lewie Coyle was finally given his chance late in the season and outperformed Wootton. Maybe Wootton would have struggled for game time next season anyway but I sure would have liked to find out. At the very least, Leeds could have sold him and collected something in return. With promises of play-offs and all, I’m guessing a few extra pounds could be handy.
Just last week Wootton was ready to return to the club and make amends for a disappointing campaign. But just like that, he’s gone.
As for replacements, Steve Evans has been spotted in Scotland and appears to be on a recruitment tour. A manager we all love, but one that has no guarantee of returning for the new season, is out trying to sign players. What could possibly go wrong with that?