This isn’t the post that I originally wrote about Chris Wilder resigning. That will come later, because he will leave. But, it seems that the break is not going to be a clean one after Wilder denied Ian Lenagan’s claim that he’d handed in his notice.
I think it’s pretty simple what’s happening. While things may be going on in the background, outwardly everyone needs to be seen to be playing by the rules. If they don’t then people get into trouble; and by trouble I mean that it starts costing people money.
Chris Wilder’s denial came via his ‘agent’; there’s never been any mention of him having an agent, and you might question what he’s been doing for Wilder over the last five years. So, it’s an intermediary, an advisor – and if he’s really smart, someone with a rudimentary understanding of contract law.
Ian Lenagan has denied Northampton Town access to Chris Wilder, which is his right, that’s the downside of an employment contract; your time is committed to another organisation. Therefore, technically, Wilder can’t even begin negotiating with the Cobblers, so he has no idea what the package is. And, let’s face it, given the mess that they’re in and what he might be leaving behind, Wilder would be wise to make sure he’s getting exactly what he wants. Especially when the financial security of his family is paramount.
Wilder resigning releases him to talk to Northampton, but it also leaves him jobless with Oxford. In the WILDERness, you might say. That’s not a strong position to be in from any perspective. No leverage with Northampton, no pay packet from Oxford. If the Northampton deal isn’t what he wants, then what would he do? So, resigning is a mistake; the best he can hope, really, is that he agitates Lenagan enough to give in and let him talk. Lenagan never really strikes you as a giving-in type person, so Wilder remains in a considerably weakened position.
There is a theory that Wilder is playing a game in order to get some compensation. That seems unlikely, or at least ill informed. Compensation in this kind of case must be proportionate to any financial losses of the claimant. In reality, assuming there is a notice period built into Wilder’s contract, that compensation is unlikely to extend beyond that. There may be bonuses, but you might question what would trigger that kind of payment.
Except; by Lenagan publicly, and incorrectly, announcing Wilder’s resignation, and simultaneously admitting that he had not heard anything official, there may be a case for constructive dismissal because the announcement has made Wilder’s position untenable.
For me, while Lenagan held all the trump cards in this game, Wilder is now in the stronger position.