Will Still’s contract situation after Sunderland interest and managerial admission from Reims boss

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What Reims boss Will Still has said about his contract amid Sunderland interest.

Will Still has just over a year remaining on his contract at French club Reims after expressing a desire to manage in England.

The 31-year-old was a candidate to replace Tony Mowbray at Sunderland in December, before the club named Michael Beale as their new head coach. Mike Dodds has now been named Sunderland’s interim head coach until the end of the season, when the club will have more time to assess their options.

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Still, who was born in Belgium to English parents, has publicly talked about wanting to manage in the Premier League, or at an ambitious Championship club. He first joined Reims as an assistant coach to Oscar Garcia in 2021, before moving to Belgium club Standard Liege, also as an assistant, as his UEFA pro licence was registered in Belgium.

Garcia then offered Still the chance to return to Reims as an assistant coach in 2022, before the Spaniard was sacked in October and Still was appointed caretaker boss.

Discussing how it unfolded on the High Performance Podcast in September, 2023, Still explained: “They fire the coach. I’m expecting to be sacked. I’m not sacked. And I said to them ‘hang on, well what if I want to be loyal towards Oscar?’ The second clause in my contract was I had to pay a huge amount to get out of my contract, because basically they wanted to avoid another club coming to pick me up.

“I was like ‘I can’t pay that, I haven’t got that money.’ They were like, we know that. We know you’re not going to go so that’s why we want to make you head coach. So I was like ‘I haven’t really got a choice.’ 

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“I felt terrible, really, really seriously bad towards Oscar and still do. He’s never spoken to me again, which I get. I literally didn’t have a choice, either you’re paying more than £600,000 to get yourself out of the club, but the club aren’t sacking me so I can’t leave and I can’t try and be loyal to you.”

Still led Reims to an 11th-place finish in Ligue 1 last season and signed a new contract with the club in June last year, which will run until 2025. Reports in France have claimed Still has a release clause of around £4.3million in his contract at Reims, who sit eighth in the Ligue 1 table this season.

When asked about that clause in December and reports that he made contact with Sunderland, Still told Gazete van Antwerpen: "I didn’t even know that clause was in my contract until last week. Perhaps that is why Sunderland put some pressure on certain media. Was it an attempt to get me out of here for free? I don’t know.

"I’m not interested in it either (reports about him). But it does frustrate me. Because now it seems like I’ve become arrogant. Or started floating (in the clouds). But that is absolutely not the case. I am still the same Will as I was at Lierse or Beerschot."

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