Date: 22nd May 2007 at 3:10pm
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Barnet’s star player Simon King has rejected a contract offer and has been placed on the the transfer list.

The player of the year, a fan’s favourite and tipped to be next season’s captain after Ian Hendon was promoted to assistant manager, ‘disappointed’ the club staff after turning down an offer that would have made one of League Two’s best players one of the Barnet’s highest ever earners.

Chairman Tony Kleanthous has ‘assure(d) supporters that Paul (Fairclough) and I did everything we could to persuade Simon to sign.’

It comes as a massive shock to the club, after he asked for a new contract week, and told supporters at the end of season awards ceremony that he would be at Underhill next season.

King, who has been Barnet’s most consistent performer over since joining in 2004, and has made 171 appearances for the Bees, scoring 7 times, was seen as an integral part of Paul Fairclough‘s plans for next season, but now looks set to find another player to bring to the club as his replacement.

In fact, it was King’s agent who forced the transfer-listing through. The club refused to put a fixed price on his selling tag along with letting him leave on a free transfer – he still has a year left on his contract.

The issue has now raised serious questions over the roles of agents in the game, and Kleanthous was quick to say that the system meant players are always finding new clubs so that their agents can get bonus payments, meaning clubs can’t develop players before they’re moved onto another club.

‘Unfortunately, under new regulations, players can only sign with an agent for a two year period so the representatives are constantly looking to move players on in that time to maximise their fees,’ Kleanthous explained to the Barnet supporters. ‘These can be considerable if the agent can find a way to secure a free transfer. The whole thing has become an absolute mess and the problem has been exacerbated by the Premier League where this behaviour has been allowed to flourish unabated.

‘Simon has been advised by his representative that he can leave Underhill on a free transfer at the end of his option period so, under the circumstances, whatever we realistically wanted to do to persuade Simon to sign was in vain. He has been an exemplary player on and off the field but I don’t know why we bother trying to develop players any more because loyalty has become non-existent, we now have no choice but to transfer list him and salvage whatever we can from the situation.’

Boss Paul Fairclough said: ‘We have nurtured Simon into an outstanding performer and, without doubt, should he leave, it will be a great loss. However, we will get over it’.

Barnet will be expecting big bids for the talented defender, probably from Championship clubs, or else we may just see him again for the Bees’ celebratory 100th season at Underhill.

And it means the captain’s armband may just pass on to an incoming player, as Fairclough seeks to make a host of players become Bees because the squad is now at just 12 players (plus transfer-listed King and Nicky Bailey). Out of the current squad, most likely to take the skippers’ role is experience goalkeeper Lee Harrison, though fans generally arn’t particularly fond of a goalkeeper being captain.

Either way, we should be concerned on getting a squad put together first, before we even start thinking about a new captain!

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