Stewart Donald, the chairman of League One club Sunderland, says Senegalese defender Papy Djilobodji has declared that he will never be seen at the club again.
Djilobodji and Gabonese midfielder Didier Ndong have made it clear that they are determined to leave the Stadium of Light following the Black Cats’ successive relegations.
Djilobodji had briefly returned to the club’s operations last week, but told club officials that he would never be seen in Sunderland again after his last round of discussions. Ndong remains absent, with Donald confirming that the club are unaware of his current whereabouts.
Donald knows that this behaviour is worthy of withholding pay, but he is still not sure whether the conduct constitutes a breach of contract.
He said: “I’m certain we are allowed to fine them for their behaviour, but the question is whether they have done enough to be in breach of their contracts to terminate their contracts and pursue them for wilfully devaluing themselves. That is the question.
“But the bottom line is, Didier Ndong has shown no interest in returning to the football club whatsoever – we don’t even know where he is.
“Papy has returned but in his last conversation said ‘you’ll never see me in Sunderland again’. So I don’t think either of the two players wants to be here anyway.
“The question is, of course, what can they get out the football club? It’s all very well saying they don’t want to be here, but I’m sure the legal advice will say we’ve done something wrong and the players would return etc. We will see where that goes.
“But our view of it is we have done nothing wrong; we haven’t asked them not to turn up, we haven’t asked them to be unfit, we’ve honoured their contracts to point at which they are not breaching it, and to the point they’ve breached it we’ve said ‘enough is enough’.
“Just because they now can’t move, we don’t think they behaved well enough for us to turn around and say ‘all right, come back and we’ll pay you’. Never mind play them, because neither of them are in condition to play.
“I think for them to expect us to pay them, when they’ve said they don’t want to be here, when they’re in breach of contract, when they don’t want to turn up…
“But then they come back, but they don’t come back in a condition in which they can play football, buy say ‘you can pay us’.
“If there’s a rinky-dink somewhere in the law that says we’re obliged to pay them, I don’t think that should be the case.
“Any right-minded human being would say they have continually breached their contracts and Sunderland should not be paying for that.”