Transfer ban at Oval
Restrictions imposed on troubled Glens... and their boss didn't know
Financially-crippled Glentoran are the subject of a transfer embargo due to an unpaid bill to Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs, the Belfast Telegraph can exclusively reveal.
And furthermore, we understand that the manager Eddie Patterson was unaware of the constraints that could plunge his pre-season preparations into chaos.
Patterson had already agreed terms with new boys Jay Magee, Mark Clarke, Kevin Bradley and Marcus Kane but, crucially, when the news was put on the Glens' official website, it was claimed they were subject to ‘board approval’.
The wording of this alarmed the players who thought that their signing had been rubber-stamped and that they would be turning out for the east-Belfast side when the season commences on August 11.
However, it is believed that the registration of these players has not reached the Irish Football Association and it is now becoming clear the reason for this is because Glentoran are not allowed to sign new players while the bill, the amount of which at this stage is unknown, remains outstanding.
Patterson's plans for the upcoming season have seen a number of players leave the club, including Ciaran Martyn, Johnny Taylor and Jaimie McGovern, having not had their contracts renewed.
Controversial striker Leon Knight was sacked following his suspension for making inflammatory comments on Twitter and fellow forward Darren Boyce has been placed on the transfer list, with Portadown keen on a loan move for the former Coleraine man. Should the embargo not be lifted, any proposed new signings will not go ahead and the Glens boss will be forced to enter the new campaign with a threadbare squad, supplemented by talented but hugely inexperienced young players.
Glentoran finished sixth in the Carling Premiership last season and were sensationally knocked out of the Irish Cup by Amateur League side Newington and now fans will be concerned that another campaign of mediocrity — or worse — could be on the horizon. The club, whose total debt is understood to be above or around £1.5m, have already been bailed out by the IFA this summer, with a £60,000 loan handed over by football's governing body here to pay outstanding salaries.
This came after a mystery benefactor stumped up the cash to save Glentoran from closure two years ago, which prompted a radical shake-up in the way the club is run. The future now seems to rely on moving to a new ground in Belfast's Titanic Quarter.
No-one from Glentoran was available for comment.