Watford has accused Everton of ‘tapping up’ former boss Marco Silva and appealed for an independent investigation of the recruitment of the 41-year-old.
If found guilty of an approach in breach of Premier League rules, Everton face having to pay a substantial fee or even a points deduction.
A similar case in 2004 saw Chelsea given a three point deduction after being found guilty of ‘tapping up’ former Arsenal left-back Ashley Cole. The club received a £300,000 fine, Cole and manager José Mourinho recieved £75,000 fines each, and Cole’s agent Jonathan Barnett was banned from working in football for twelve months.
Everton’s initial pursuit of Silva came in November 2017, when Ronald Koeman was sacked after his poor start to the season. Everton’s first choice for his replacement was Watford boss Silva, however, the Hornets would not welcome any sort of approach for the manager, as they were flying high in the top four of the Premier League at the time.
Watford’s form soon dipped, and after winning just one game out of eleven, Silva was sacked. Watford released a statement explaining their decision and stating that Silva had his head turned by Everton.
“The catalyst for this decision is that unwarranted approach, something which the board believes has seen a significant deterioration in focus and results to the point where the long-term future of Watford FC has been jeopardised.”
After Sam Allardyce’s brief spell as Everton manager, Silva took over at Goodison Park in May 2018. The Premier League hoped that Everton could incorporate some sort of compensation in the £40 million transfer of Watford forward Richarlison to join Silva at Goodison Park. However, Watford released another statement in July stating:
“We believe this situation is not about a compensation figure but the principle of making a stand when the actions of one Premier League club undermine and cause intrinsic damage to a fellow member club.”
Due to Watford’s refusal to accept compensation for the ‘tapping up’ of their manager, the case has been handed over to lawyers who will investigate Everton’s emails and calls to see if an illegal approach was made.
The allegations have resurfaced calls for the introduction of a managerial transfer window to prevent unwanted or illegal approaches of managers mid-season, thereby preventing successful managers of smaller clubs having their heads turned by approaches from bigger clubs.
This would allow managers would be able to concentrate on achieving long-term rather than short-term success. Unsurprisingly, larger Premier League clubs have shown no interest in a managerial transfer window, whereas smaller clubs have.
There were a record ten managerial changes by Premier League clubs last season, including Crystal Palace’s sacking of Frank De Boer after just five games. In the past, Brendan Rodgers has stated that a transfer window for managers could “bring some organisation to the chaos”.
As an alternative to a managerial transfer window, the Premier League could introduce an Italian rule that prohibits a manager taking the reigns of two clubs in the same division in one season.
Either of these solutions would reduce the domination of Premier League giants, protect the integrity of the competition and prevent the alleged ‘tapping up’ of managers such as Marco Silva from rival clubs.