Of the players who left the club this summer, Louis Carey probably caused the biggest stir, with his well-documented comments regarding the way Bristol-born players are treated (in financial terms) at Ashton Gate.
I have to say, I found Louis' comments to be somewhat arrogant. He was a player who has served our club for many years and, as far as I am aware, has always been well-treated during that time (if he wasn't, surely he'd have looked for a move before now and made his feelings known), so why did he suddenly decide to bite the hand that had fed him for so long, when he could have just walked away with a ‘thank you' and his head held high?
Well, having listened to all the comments from both sides, the only answer I can come up with to that question is – his agent advised him to do so.
Perhaps Louis was aware that, as with many players who leave their hometown club, he may be accused of a lack of loyalty by the supporters, so he thought he'd get his retaliation in first. I don't know, but whatever his reasons, for me, he soured the departure of a player I would happily have thanked and wished well.
Was Louis disloyal? In wanting a move elsewhere, of course he wasn't. He signed a contract, he honoured it and he then chose to seek employment at another club. That's absolutely his right and I don't begrudge him that in any way. Were his comments disloyal? I would suggest they were and the respect I had for him as a player all but disappeared with that article.
Equally, I was amazed to read that Louis cited another reason for leaving as being that the club was demanding he signed a new contract before it would allow him a testimonial. Clearly, Louis' maths isn't all it could be, as he wasn't due a testimonial until the season 2005-06, so of course he'd have had to sign a new contract in order to be eligible. Again, I would suggest an agent was feeding him very poorly researched advice.
Can Louis have any complaints if, on arriving at Highfield Road, the homegrown players at his new club voiced similar complaints about him (an outsider) joining their ranks for a signing on fee and a good salary? Well, if he does, he has some alarming double-standards. But with the agent he has whispering in his ear, I doubt that has occurred to him and, even if it has, I doubt he's bothered.
Had Louis stayed, he would have been on a salary potentially better than the wage he earned previously at City (seems fair to me, considering the team failed to get promotion), though of course, his new contract was more performance-based, as they all will be from now on, I'm sure (though, judging by the fact Brian Tinnion has had to sign Jamie Smith, Louis would have been a sure-fire starter). Not only that, but Louis would have been entitled to a testimonial next year, which could have earned him a large tax-free sum and saved him the upheaval of moving, settling into a new team and all those things that Scott Murray found so unbearable at Reading.
However, had Louis stayed, his agent would not have received a penny, as Bristol City rightly refused to pay him the hefty sum he requested (I will never understand why an individual, who is employed by a player, expects to be paid by a club who don't employ him). To me, that is the bottom line. Louis' agent did what was best to feather his own nest and had little interest in how that affected Louis. The comments to The Evening Post ensured his bridges with the club were well and truly burned and got his agent the payday he had wanted all along.
Had Louis come out in the first place and said he wanted to play at a higher level and, with interest from Coventry , he felt it was an avenue he had to explore, then fair enough. But the whole sorry tale was based purely around agents and money, and for those reasons, I'm not sorry Louis has gone.
With poison like that being fed into our club through the whispering campaign of an agent, we are well rid and I am sure the team unity we require, if promotion is to be achieved, will be all the better for his departure.
All the best for the future, Louis. What a shame you had to spoil my memories of your time here.