VASTERAS, Sweden (Reuters) - When Vasteras sold Victor Lindelof, who made his Manchester United debut against LA Galaxy on Saturday, to Benfica in 2011 many fans in the small Swedish city wondered if the initial transfer fee of 100,000 euros was enough for the young defender.
But a lucrative sell-on clause in the contract has meant a huge financial windfall for the third-tier Swedish club following Manchester United’s 35 million euro ($40 million) purchase of Lindelof last month.
“Absolutely, it’s a safety net. Now I don’t have to lie there sleepless the day before the wages are paid,” Vasteras chairwoman Christina Liffner told Reuters at the club’s Solid Park Arena.
The money received for the defender could not have come at a better time for the club, who were recently tettering on the brink of bankruptcy.
The Lindelof cash solved most of those issues, but Liffner said she had already earmarked some of the proceeds for youth development.
“We have said that we want to build an academy. What does that cost per year? We can put aside that much in a special account that can only be used for that,” the 66-year-old former economist said.
The sale of Lindelof to Benfica initially gave Vasteras money in three tranches of 100,000 euros - first a transfer fee, then another when he played his third under-21 match for Sweden.
The third was when he had played 10 senior games for the Portuguese team.
But the real value for Vasteras was a clause that would give them 20 percent of any future transfer fee, and with Lindelof catching the eye of big European clubs, Benfica sought to renegotiate.
“They said that they had renegotiated Victor’s contract and that our old agreement wasn’t valid anymore,” Liffner said.
Though legal advisors told Vasteras their contract was still valid, they decided not to pursue a protracted legal battle.
“In the end we negotiated a new contract and there is a confidentiality clause in it, but everyone understands that we had to go down a bit,” she said.
Had the original contract stood they would have received seven million of the 35 million euros Manchester United paid Benfica for the 22-year-old, but even though they had to settle for less, the club were still happy.
“We’re definitely not going to go out and speculate, but if we got one percent (interest) or even a half, on a considerable sum of money, that’s still more money,” Liffner said.
Located about 100 kilometres from Stockholm, Vasteras are now aiming to get to Sweden’s top flight by 2021, but neither Liffner nor club manager former Celtic defender Johan Mjallby are willing to throw money around to reach that goal.
Mjallby, who won two Swedish league titles with AIK as well as three in Scotland with Celtic, said he expected Lindelof to succeed at Old Trafford.
“He gets the maximum out of his talent, much as I did as a player,” said the 46-year-old, who captained Sweden at the 2002 World Cup.
“He’s going to surprise some people with his simplicity. To play simply is the hardest thing for many players.
“Benfica is a big club, but Manchester United is a gigantic club.
“He’s been bought for big money, so there will be less patience ... but he can deliver. I have no doubts about that.”
($1 = 0.8721 euros)
Reporting by Philip O'Connor, editing by Ed Osmond/Greg Stutchbury