Luiz Felipe Scolari has told the Football Association that he wants more than the basic annual salary of £2.5m plus win bonuses they have offered him to become the new England manager. The Brazilian coach has said that he wants the job, but on his terms and he finally broke his silence last night when he told a Portuguese radio station that he had other options as well as the FA's offer.
The 57-year-old's agent, Jilmar Veloz, is in negotiations with the FA's chief executive, Brian Barwick, and lawyer Simon Johnson over the pay package in which the basic salary element is much lower than the £4m net that is paid to Sven Goran Eriksson. While the proposed Scolari deal is lucrative when bonuses are added the Portugal coach has told the FA that he wants a better basic salary, even though it is double his wage with Portugal.
The salary package will have to be approved by the FA's main board and, given the extravagant deal agreed with Eriksson in 2004, the FA is understandably keen to make sure that this time it does not pay over the odds to get its man. Once the deal is agreed it is more likely that Scolari will sign a legally binding declaration of intent rather than a contract that will tie him to a deal to take over England after the World Cup finals.
Scolari agreed in principle to take the job when Barwick and Johnson flew out to see him in Lisbon on Wednesday. The FA is confident that it has acted according to the rules and it emerged yesterday that Barwick asked the FA chairman Geoff Thompson to call his Portuguese counterpart, Gilberto Madail, to obtain permission to speak to Scolari on 1 March the day of the England friendly against Uruguay.
Last night, however, Scolari went on the attack about the "gentleman's agreement" with the Portuguese football federation that prevented him from discussing a new deal before the end of the World Cup. Scolari told the station TSF that Madail had not offered him a new deal, his current contract expired at the end of July, and that he had other offers as well as the FA's with one understood to be a lucrative coaching job at a club in Saudi Arabia. It was the first sign that Scolari is prepared to take on the PFF to allow him to accept the England job before 9 June. The FA hopes that by signing a declaration before the World Cup, rather than a contract, it will ease the pressure on Scolari.
Yesterday the PFF was still maintaining that the gentleman's agreement would be kept until Scolari's deal runs out at the end of July. Privately, the Portuguese are fearful of the reaction among their fans to a pre-World Cup announcement that Scolari will be joining England. Sources at the FA believe it would be virtually impossible for him to give an introductory press conference in London before the tournament ends on 9 July.
A work permit will be no problem for Scolari: he has an Italian passport as well as a Brazilian one a legacy of his great-great grandfather, one of millions of Italians who emigrated to Brazil's Rio Grande do Sul region in the 1870s. Scolari speaks the "Talian" dialect which is a mix of Venetian dialect and Portuguese.
At the PFF headquarters in Lisbon yesterday, the Portuguese media attempted to speak to Scolari and his reaction to them was described by one source as "aggressive". Outside the FA's Soho Square headquarters, Barwick gave little away other than to say "it was well evidenced we were in Lisbon speaking to Felipe Scolari as part of the process of recruiting the next coach".
It was a measure of how concerned the PFF has become about the situation that yesterday, despite huge evidence to the contrary, it was still denying the reports that Scolari had a verbal agreement with the FA to succeed Eriksson. The PFF spokesman, Alfonso Di Melo, said that "nothing would be decided until after the World Cup". He added: "He will not be talking about contracts. If the FA want to talk to someone they will have to talk to his agent, Jilmar Veloz. I know him [Scolari] well and he won't be studying any proposition until after the World Cup."
While the FA is confident of getting Scolari, its emergency second-choice candidate remains Steve McClaren. The Arsenal vice-chairman, David Dein, one of the five-man committee charged with finding the new manager, has been credited with pushing Scolari's case but sources have indicated that Barwick was the man who initiated contact. His decision to ask Thompson to speak to Madail on 1 March indicates that the FA chief executive has been preparing the ground for an offer to Scolari for some time. When exactly Barwick switched his allegiances from Martin O'Neill, his first choice, to Scolari is not clear but it has emerged that O'Neill did not impress in his interview with the FA committee. Privately O'Neill is understood to be reconciled to losing out to Scolari.
As it now seems a matter of when, rather than if, Scolari takes over he will inevitably bring with him his loyal Brazilian assistant, Flavio "Murtosa " Teixeira, who has worked with him for more than 20 years. Also likely to join the FA backroom team will be Scolari's nephew, the fitness coach Darlan Schneider.Reuse content