As some supporters may be aware, Arthur Lee, who is currently a contract player, posted a message on social media yesterday criticising the club's handling of his request to be allowed to move to Hampton & Richmond Borough on a free transfer in order to further his career. With this issue now in the public domain, the club feels that it is only right that all supporters are made aware of the circumstances giving rise to Arthur's criticism.
When Gary McCann announced that he was leaving the club to join Hampton & Richmond Borough, the club spoke to all of its contract players to advise them that we would move as quickly as possible to appoint a new manager and to ask them to remain patient until such time as we were in a position to update them further.
A number of players, including Arthur, advised the club that they would prefer to leave Hendon and they were all reminded that, as contract players, a fee would be required from any club seeking to recruit them. All players were allowed to speak to prospective new clubs in order to help facilitate their transfers.
As supporters will know, Niko Muir, Tom Lovelock and Zak Joseph all recently left the club, a fee having been negotiated and agreed prior to their departure. In each case, the agreed fee was less than the amount that the Board believes represents fair value - this is because the club sought to strike an appropriate balance between the club's interests and those of the player. The club stood ready to adopt exactly the same stance in relation to Arthur but no club approached Hendon offering a fee.
Arthur contacted the club last week to advise that he was struggling to find a new club because there was no-one willing to pay a fee. The Board acknowledged Arthur's dilemma and, in the spirit of balancing the club's interests with Arthur's, offered to allow him to move on a free transfer to any club other than a club who would compete against Hendon next season or Hampton & Richmond Borough.
The Board's reasoning was that the club had been extremely accommodating to Hampton & Richmond Borough and to Gary personally by releasing him from his contract without requiring any compensation to be paid. The consequence of this decision was the exodus to Hampton & Richmond Borough of Gary's entire back-room staff and, to date, 9 players. While the Board believes that neither Hampton & Richmond Borough nor Gary McCann has done anything wrong, it was felt that no further accommodations should be made.
Arthur's initial response was that he appreciated the Board's offer and that he respected the conditions that the club had imposed on that offer. Unfortunately, this appreciation and respect was somewhat short-lived and relations between Arthur and the Board deteriorated with the result being Arthur's social media post.
Arthur's criticism is that he felt it unfair that Hampton & Richmond should be the only club required pay a fee. In view of that criticism, the Board has decided to withdraw the offer of a free transfer to any other club. Arthur remains under contract but the club has written to the National League and Isthmian League asking them to make their clubs aware that he is available for transfer and that a fee will be required.