We’re not in position to hold employees against their will, admits Paul Barber

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Brighton and Hove Albion’s chief executive Paul Barber has confessed that the Seagulls are still going to stick to their policy of allowing their employees to talk to other clubs for potential jobs. This comes after Brighton gave Chelsea permission to talk to Graham Potter before he signed for them.

Having sacked Thomas Tuchel in the aftermath of their loss to Dinamo Zagreb, Chelsea acted rapidly to get their replacement and brought in Graham Potter. That was only after the Blues got permission from Brighton and Hove Albion to talk to the Englishman which was only because the Stamford Bridge side agreed to meet Potter’s £20 million compensation clause. The 47-year-old eventually left the Seagulls for the Blues, taking a few members of his coaching staff with him.

That hasn’t gone down well with more than a few fans but that has been Brighton’s policy as the club did something similar when they allowed Newcastle United to speak to Dan Ashworth. The policy reportedly won’t be changing any time soon and that has been reiterated by Paul Barber as he admitted that they won’t “hold employees against their will”. The Brighton chief executive also added that all the club can do is protect themselves which is what they already do with contracts. 

“Football clubs are not prisons. We are not in a position to hold employees against their will. We try to do as much as we can to protect ourselves with contracts. Contracts, we hope, will always be respected, but where people have an outstanding opportunity and they feel that it’s better for them, their careers, their families, then we’ve got an open mind,” Barber said, reported the Athletic.

Barber also further explained Ashworth’s situation and revealed that certain employees have clauses in their contracts that allows the club to place them on “gardening leave” as they did with Dan Ashworth. He also added that the club needs a combination of a financial clause and a gardening leave clause in order to help protect them, as they don’t believe in stopping employees from talking to another prospective employer.

“Obviously, we don’t want to lose our best people and we make it as difficult as possible for people to leave and for people to take our staff, but in certain situations, we have to be realistic that it will happen. And in that scenario, we either protect ourselves with contracts that allow us to place people on gardening leave as we did with Dan, in order to protect our club or to guard against losing key people at key times, or protect ourselves financially. 

“A combination of those at times is necessary. To tell someone that they can’t speak to another prospective employer, in my opinion, and Tony’s (owner-chairman Tony Bloom) opinion, only breeds the kind of behavior where people go behind your back, they have secret meetings, and it comes out and it’s a bigger story, it’s more disruptive, it’s potentially more damaging, it unsettles more staff.

“People in our club know that we have a culture where we want people to do well and progress and it’s up to us to make sure we’ve got good people coming in behind them to keep the progress that we are making ongoing,” he added.

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