The deal agreed for forward Simeon Akinola has collapsed this afternoon, with the player now on his way back to Barnet to resume training with them.
It’s been the transfer saga of the season, the one / off move for the former Braintree man has had Imps refreshing their browsers for a whole weekend. Firstly we waited on Thursday for news, then it emerged we might have got him anyway and refreshed all Friday too. By Saturday pictures of Simeon training with us came out, and we awaited the news. Sunday, we waited. Monday, we waited. Tuesday came, and Tuesday has brought the worst news.
I imagine the club statement will be a sanitised piece explaining how the deal has collapsed due to a technicality, and that all parties are extremely disappointed. I imagine not long after that irate fans will be venting their frustration on all our favourite social media platforms, screaming we shouldn’t leave the deal so late and all the other ill-informed opinion which is so prevalent these days.
Firstly, the time scale is purely down to the selling club and the transfer window itself. I’m sure Danny would have liked to have Simeon Akinola in the squad as we journeyed down to Wycombe, in fact I know he would. Back in January perhaps £40k was a bit rich, but now he’s deemed surplus to requirements at Barnet I imagine a fee in the region of £25k was far more appealing. However, that would not have been the case had we gone in before the season started. We may even have enquired, but at that point Akinola was not for sale.
His availability hinged on Barnet signing Maidenhead’s Dave Tarpey. Once he signed that deal with Barnet then Akinola would become available, but thanks to the agent involved this wasn’t ever going to happen until the deadline had counted down. The excellent Bleacher Report did this short video on Sheffield United’s transfer deadline day, to show exactly how clubs have to operate, receiving late demands. Instead of Chris Wilder picture Danny Cowley, sitting by the phone waiting for news of Tarpey joining Barnet. Now imagine the same over at Barnet, but instead what if Dave Tarpey’s agent suddenly called up at 10pm and insisted the deal cost another £5k fee to get over the line? What then happens to us in the chain?
It is my understanding that this isn’t far from the truth. I occasionally chat to someone who knows someone, I’m sure you know that (I did call our interest in Akinola on Wednesday which was even before Danny and the player knew. That’s knowledge for you). Danny has been actively chasing Simeon for a while, but unfortunately the deal wasn’t possible until Thursday as agents hold all the cards. No agent, certainly not Dave Tarpey’s, was going to move his player on early when he knows by waiting and pushing late for more cash he might panic a club. That is why so much happens on deadline day. There isn’t a club in the Football League that likes being held ransom with an hour to go, but it is the situation the window has created.
On the other hand you have Simeon, a player who was not represented by an agent looking to maximise the deal, rather he was being looked after by an agent who had his player’s interest at heart. Simeon Akinola wanted to play some football, he wanted to work with Danny and Nicky and his agent wanted to get him that deal. I understand that there was no late shenanigans on their behalf, both agent and player were on the ball, prepared for a move and ready to progress well before the 11pm deadline. As this was our only bit of business of the day, it is safe to say the paperwork was completed and ready to go on time at our end. I wasn’t the one who pressed the button, but we were not late with our paperwork, I state that as fact, not conjecture.
So we weren’t late, the player and his agent were not late, my only deduction is that Barnet were late. The Non League Paper had a story this week about the deal, saying how Peter Griffin (seriously), the Maidenhead Chairman, was playing five a side football with his phone was on silent. This caused a delay in that deal, and even after it was finally agreed they struggled to get paperwork done. The Barnet fax machine would not work and the e mail system was down.
They had to register Dave Tarpey incoming at the same time as Simeon Akinola outgoing, but anyone with any tech savvy knows that you can’t send two emails simultaneously. You can’t press send at the same time on two faxes either, and that is after you get them working properly. If you’re Barnet do you process the sale of Akinola first, or the purchase of Tarpey? If Dave Tarpey goes through at 10.50pm or thereabouts, and the files are 40mb of contract and agreement, you can wager the next email couldn’t go until 10.55pm. If it is a fax machine I suppose there is a similar timeframe once the data is in the air. What if the Tarpey paperwork was sent at 10.55pm, or 10.57pm? In that instance it is Simeon Akinola and Lincoln City that miss out
Lincoln City won’t tell you this though, and even if you want to scream for complete transparency you’ll never get it and rightly so. This is business, if we came out with a statement claiming in was Barnet’s fault, do you think we’d have any chance of a good deal on the same player in January? Do you think we’d have a chance of any deal with them ever again if our statement read ‘Barnet messed up and now we’re all suffering because of it’? Of course we wouldn’t, it would be goodbye for good to Akinola and probably for any relationship we have with Barnet.
This may be a football deal, something closely monitored by fans and observers alike, but it is also a business deal, a deal I imagine we hope to resurrect in six months time with another business that we will be dealing with again and again. Imagine if we blasted them in the press, and then they visit here later in the month. That would be an awfully frosty boardroom wouldn’t it? We had enough of those whever the repugnant Jim Parmenter rolled his Dover roadshow into town. Lincoln City want to make friends, not enemies and in the Football League (not that Jim knows) we conduct ourselves in the right manner. No, Lincoln City will remain stoic and balanced in whatever they put out to the press in the interests of good relations. After all, Barnet haven’t intentionally collapsed the deal have they? Their wage bill is now higher than they’d like for six months and they have a decent player and a nice guy who won’t be getting much game time. Not ideal for anyone involved at all.
There will be those who will say ‘so what if the Barnet paperwork was ten minutes late, the FA should show some leniency’. I’ve got that covered too. Last day of the season at home to Yeovil, Akinola scores the winner that earns us a play-off spot at Mansfield’s expense, do you think they’d take it lightly? Or do you think they’d rake up the fact he shouldn’t be playing for us? The FA have rules that must be adhered too, and however much we don’t like them, they’re there for a reason. If you bend the rules for one, you have to be consistent and soon the deadline day is even more farcical than it is now.
I imagine there are a lot of unhappy people at Sincil Bank right now, and a few at the Hive. I pity the person who sent the transmission at just gone 11pm who has spent the last few days desperately pleading for leniency. I pity everyone at Lincoln City who, upon hearing that Simeon was available, stopped pursuing the other lines of enquiry and concentrated on the player. This is normal, and even if we’d kept chasing other targets what good would it be? We thought we gotten Akinola over the line, other irons in the fire would have been wasted.
I mostly feel sorry for Simeon though, as his career is almost on hold for six months. He’s now at a club that doesn’t want him, rotting away in the reserves without much chance of first team football. As well as Tarpey they signed Mars from Chelsea, they’ve got Akinde to come back from injury as well as two or three other forwards. Simeon Akinola is a victim of the awful situation deadline day puts clubs in, created not only by it coming during the season but also greedy agents holding clubs to ransom. Most of all, he’s probably a victim of Barnet having a slow fax machine or internet connection.