Rugby League: Rowley threatens to `do a Bosman'

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The Independent Online
Paul Rowley, the Halifax hooker, plans to become the first player in the game to challenge his contract under the Bosman Ruling.

Rowley intends to follow in the stud-marks of Wimbledon's Vinnie Jones, the Welsh international footballer, in seeking to become a free agent under the terms of the ground-breaking European law, should they be applied - as both players believe they should - to domestic transfers.

The Halifax player, whose current contract expires in December, is angry that his club, who have rejected two bids for him, have offered him a new contract which he regards as derisory.

Wigan have made a bid of pounds 150,000 plus a player for the 22-year-old, who represented Great Britain Under-21s and England against France last year, and Leeds have also made a move for him.

"Halifax only paid pounds 40,000 to Leigh for me and they have turned down two bids which are far more than their contract offer to me suggests they think I am worth," Rowley said. "I will continue to do my best for the club - and especially for our coach, John Pendlebury - this season, but at the end of it I want to move on as a free agent."

The current situation in rugby league is that a player at the end of a contract and rejecting a new deal can move to a different club for a fee to be fixed by a tribunal.

Where Rowley's case will ring alarm bells within the game is in his argument that he should be able to move on without a transfer fee.

The Halifax chief executive, Nigel Wood, said that any change to the current position "would send shock-waves through the game."

"The whole issue of contracts in professional sport is an evolving one, but we have been proceeding in accordance with the Rugby League's by-laws," he said. "We have made Paul an offer that would put him among the highest paid players at the club but, if he is unhappy with that in the light of what he believes he could be offered elsewhere, we have difficulties."

Wigan's extra man, page 29