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THE INSIDER: The background to Demba Ba's release clause
8:00am Saturday 5th January 2013 in Sport
NEWCASTLE United have been criticised for agreeing to the much-publicised release clause that enabled Chelsea to sign Demba Ba for just £7.5m, but The Insider can reveal some of the background that led to the striker's contract being drawn up as it was.
When Newcastle agreed to sign Ba from West Ham United in the summer of 2010, they were well aware of his previous medical history.
The Senegal international had failed a medical at Stoke City prior to joining West Ham because of a long-standing problem with his knee.
The injury is a chronic issue that will never be completely solved, although medical opinion is understood to be split over the extent of the injury, with some specialists arguing it could cause serious problems at any time and others claiming it should not be a cause for concern in the future provided it is carefully managed.
Either way, the Newcastle hierarchy were concerned at the possibility of agreeing to a long-term deal that could seen them have to pay all of Ba's wages, even if he had suffered a career-threatening recurrence of his knee problem in the early stages of his Magpies career.
As a result, they pushed Ba and his representatives to agree to a structured pay deal that meant around half of the striker's total wages, which are understood to have been around £45,000-a-week, were dependent upon him playing.
Initially, Ba's representatives resisted such a deal, however they eventually agreed to commit their client to a performance-dependent policy provided the club included a release clause within the contract.
The clause, which was triggered by Chelsea earlier this week, meant Newcastle officials had to allow Ba to speak to a club offering £7.5m, provided a number of additional terms were met.
With the benefit of hindsight, the clause has deprived the Magpies of up to £10m as Ba's 13 Premier League goals already this season make him one of the hottest properties in English football.
However, having spent a fortune on long-term injury victims in the past, it is understood Newcastle will not rule out including similar clauses in their future contracts if they believe they will offer them financial protection against an identifiable injury risk.
STEPH Houghton enjoyed a fantastic 2012, and the County Durham midfielder looks set for an equally spectacular start to 2013.
On Sunday, February 3, the Football Association will stage the inaugural FA England Awards at St George's Park.
There will be an award for Men's Senior and Men's Under-21 Player of the Year and also a prize for Women's Player of the Year for 2012.
Given that she scored in all three of Great Britain's group matches at the Olympics and helped England qualify for this year's European Championships, Durham-born Houghton has to have a great chance of becoming the first player to claim the award.
Earlier this week, she received the backing of former England skipper Faye White, who said: “Steph put in solid and consistent performances throughout last year and has a great deal of confidence in her ability in both attacking and defending situations.”
HASTINGS are making a mini-break of their trip to the North-East for this afternoon's FA Cup third-round tie with Middlesbrough.
After travelling up yesterday morning to train at Newcastle, the non-leaguers will be at the Riverside Stadium today hoping to create a huge cup shock.
Regardless of whether they are successful though, Hastings player-boss Shaun Ray has given his squad permission to head back up to Tyneside after the tie for a night out.
They will return to Sussex tomorrow – and Boro will be hoping the headaches will not be from giant-killing celebrations.
THE games makers were a huge part of the success of London 2012, and organisers of the British legs of the 2014 Tour de France, which will start in Yorkshire, are looking to replicate the success of the Olympic and Paralympic volunteering programme.
'Le Tour Makers' will form an integral part of Yorkshire's input into the biggest cycling race in the world, and anyone interested in taking part can already register their interest.
Simply log on to the 'Welcome to Yorkshire' website at www.yorkshire.com/le-tour-yorkshire and follow the links to submit your details.