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What you need to know about the Frank Lampard fiasco

The midfielder released a statement this morning referring to recent reports as ‘lies and nonsense’.

Image: Craig Ruttle/AP/Press Association Images

LAST JULY, FRANK LAMPARD posed for photographs in New York with the Manhattan skyline providing the perfect backdrop.

But ever since, his proposed deal with soon-to-be MLS franchise New York City FC has descended into farce.

After seemingly committing his future to a new North American club, Lampard arrived at Manchester City the following month on what was perceived (and described by City and Lampard) as a ‘short-term loan’. It was expected that Lampard would remain in England until January before then joining up with his new team-mates in New York for pre-season training (an MLS campaign begins in March). But, on New Year’s Eve, City announced that Lampard would be staying with them until the end of the season.

In New York, there was an outcry. 11,000 supporters had purchased season tickets upon Lampard’s unveiling, the signing of a high-profile player fueling interest levels. Now, the same supporters were being told Lampard would play a full Premier League season, take a holiday and probably pull on a NYCFC shirt sometime in mid-summer.

Over the last few days, the interested parties have all commented on the situation. So, we’ve picked everything apart to provide the key details.

Major League Soccer:    

MLS were first to blink. The league’s commissioner Don Garber spoke to Sports Illustrated’s Grant Wahl last weekend and revealed that Lampard had entered into an agreement with City Football Group (CFG) last summer. Normally, MLS, as a single entity league, owns the registrations of the players and any potential trades are negotiated between teams and the league. So, the Lampard deal was something unique from the beginning.

MLS Impact Soccer MLS commissioner Don Garber Source: Ryan Remiorz/The Canadian Press/Press Association Images

CFG is the umbrella company overseen by Sheikh Mansour, who owns a burgeoning empire of football teams across the world – New York City FC, Melbourne City and Manchester City. According to MLS, Lampard agreed to play for Manchester City until the end of 2014 and then begin his stint in MLS from January 2015.

So, according to MLS, they knew of Lampard’s situation from the start. Their view was that he was owned by the parent company of Manchester City. And that he, as a consistent Premier League performer,  would probably be signed by the reigning champions if they were that way inclined.

But, all of this wasn’t communicated to anyone last summer. Instead, NYCFC’s statement at the time said that Lampard had signed a two-year contract with the MLS franchise, essentially starting with immediate effect. The first warning signs were when Lampard suddenly joined Manchester City on an apparent ‘loan’.

Premier League: 

According to the Premier League, Lampard is signed to Manchester City until the end of the season.

But, quite incredibly, they completely rubbished MLS’s claim that Lampard was owned by an umbrella company, stating they’ve received assurances from City that that isn’t the case.

The Premier League has sought and received assurances from Manchester City that there is no agreement in place between the club or City Football Group with New York City FC relating to the player.”

Manchester City:

Earlier this morning, the Premier League side finally gave their version of events. They claimed that the statement on the NYCFC website last summer detailing that Lampard’s 2-year deal with the franchise would commence on 1st August 2014 was an error and shouldn’t have happened.

Soccer - Barclays Premier League - Manchester City v Sunderland - Etihad Stadium Source: Martin Rickett/PA Wire/Press Association Images

They added that their own announcement, made when Lampard signed for them last August, was a mistake and that no reference to a ‘loan’ should have been made.

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They also revealed there was a head of terms (which precede a negotiated contract) agreed for Lampard to move to MLS in January 2015.

Frank Lampard: 

Lampard released a statement earlier today and referred to recent reports as “lies and nonsense”.

“When released from Chelsea last year at the end of my contract I signed a commitment to play in NYCFC for two years starting January 1st 2015. I was then offered the chance to train and be a part of the Man City squad in the interim to keep myself in the best shape going into New York.”

“This period has since been extended by Man City and I will now start playing for NYCFC at the end of this current Premier League season. There has always been a constant dialogue between all parties in this time to find the best solution for everyone.”

Conclusion:

So, Lampard will be in New York next summer but it appears MLS remain confused by the agreement they entered into last year. They think Lampard signed with City Football Group – something the Premier League completely contradicted this morning.

NYCFC Lampard Soccer Source: Craig Ruttle/AP/Press Association Images

It remains to be seen what was agreed between MLS and Lampard prior to his unveiling. With Manchester City finally disclosing the errors made throughout the process, perhaps the time is right for MLS to do likewise.

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About the author:

Eoin O'Callaghan

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