Does Chelsea Really Have a Plan B?

Notes on Negotiation
Written by Marty LatzLatz Negotiation Institute

Chelsea, an English Premier League soccer team, has made two offers to competitor Manchester United to acquire the services of striker Wayne Rooney. The first was for about £20 million and the second for over £25 million. Manchester United rejected both.

Chelsea has made a couple of negotiation blunders. First, they bid against themselves. Generally, before making a counteroffer, you should get something from your counterpart – either a first offer or concessions from a previous offer.

Second, earlier in the summer, Chelsea’s manager, Jose Mourinho, said Rooney was his only transfer target. This undermined Chelsea’s leverage by highlighting their lack of alternatives.

Mourinho has tried to correct this by now claiming the club has backup options. “We have plans B and C. Don’t ask me names. It’s difficult to speak about players from other clubs.” But his lack of specificity undermines how likely this may be.

Chelsea’s real problem here is that Manchester United doesn’t need to trade Rooney, one of England’s most celebrated goal scorers. Manchester United might consider it because they have two great strikers – Rooney and his heir apparent, Robin van Persie – and getting good value for Rooney at the end of his career would make financial sense.

What should Chelsea do? Aggressively take concrete steps to turn their alleged “plans B and C” into practical possibilities. And put some fear into Manchester United that they might miss out on the chance for a large financial windfall.

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Marty Latz is the founder of Latz Negotiation Institute, a national negotiation training and consulting company, and ExpertNegotiator, a Web-based software company that helps managers and negotiators more effectively negotiate and implement best practices based on the experts’ proven research.  He is also the author of Gain the Edge! Negotiating to Get What You Want (St. Martin’s Press 2004). He can be reached at 480-951-3222 or Latz@ExpertNegotiator.com

ICLEF • Indiana Continuing Legal Education Forum, Indianapolis, IN

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