Belfast Telegraph

Outraged Coleraine hit back at Crusaders as McGonigle row hots up


Tug-of-war: Jamie McGonigle has asked for permission to speak with Crusaders
Tug-of-war: Jamie McGonigle has asked for permission to speak with Crusaders

By Steven Beacom

Coleraine chairman Colin McKendry has blasted back at comments made by Crusaders manager Stephen Baxter about the potential transfer of striker Jamie McGonigle from the Showgrounds to Seaview.

Following Thursday night's 2-0 home victory for the Crues in the Europa League against B36 Torshavn, Baxter hit out at Coleraine's handling of McGonigle's proposed move claiming a fee had been agreed between the clubs and that personal terms with the player had been sorted.

When Oran Kearney took over as Bannsiders boss for a second time earlier this month, he asked for Crues midfielder Philip Lowry as part of the transfer.

In Baxter's post Torshavn match press conference he declared that Coleraine had 'moved the goalposts' and 'under no circumstances would Philip Lowry be leaving'.

He added: "If that is how they do business I can't change that. If you don't want to sell say that but don't avoid phone calls for a week and send two pathetic text messages."

That did not go down well with Coleraine who issued a strongly worded statement yesterday voicing their disappointment with Baxter's comments and saying they expected any proposed transfer to be kept private.

The statement went on: "At no point during this process have Coleraine formally confirmed to Crusaders they have accepted an offer for our player. It was only right that with the recent appointment of Oran Kearney as our manager he was given the opportunity to consider the playing staff and any proposed transfers."

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The Belfast Telegraph can reveal that the original fee agreed between the two clubs for Northern Ireland under-21 striker McGonigle was £50,000.

McKendry insists it was £50,000 plus VAT. He believes Crusaders viewed it as £50,000 straight.

He said: "The basic facts of this deal are Crusaders wanted Jamie McGonigle. They offered derogatory finances for him at the start. Our board shot it down and they asked us if we had a figure. We gave them that figure and they came back with it (£50,000).

"The anomalies with that were add-ons, sell on clauses and figures if they qualify for Europe and so forth. I told Crusaders if they met the £50,000 I would release the player to speak to them.

"Jamie had said to me personally that he wanted to go and speak to them and I gave him the go ahead to meet Crusaders. It would have been totally remiss of me not to allow him to do that, though I'm not sure if personal terms were agreed or not.

"It's irrelevant because there was no deal agreed between the clubs because of the anomalies in it that had to be ironed out prior to a transfer taking place. For me, the fee was going to be £50,000 plus VAT. The sale of an asset is plus VAT and Jamie is an asset to our club. There was a time during negotiations that both (Crusaders chairman) Tommy Whiteside and I were out of the country.

"Also, we were in the process of appointing our manager Oran Kearney which took preference over any deal to sell one of our young players.

"For Stephen (Baxter, below) to come out and say it was pathetic how the situation was handled left me very disappointed because the ball was back in their court with the anomalies that were contained in the deal.

"In relation to the comments that he has made, I believe he has been badly misinformed and to conduct his business in the media is completely wrong.

"When Oran had come back on board he spoke to their manager and clearly identified his thoughts and made it clear that he would like Philip Lowry to be part of the deal. Stephen Baxter has obviously shot that down so at this stage we are in limbo.

"I've asked Tommy Whiteside to get Stephen to contact me so I can put him clear in the picture of where I am and how I feel about this because I was livid when I read his comments.

"Stephen is an exceptionally successful manager and I congratulate Crusaders on their win in the Europa League and hope they finish the job and play Wolves in the next round.

"That is what Irish League football is all about. It's not about silly comments. I won't allow Coleraine to be pushed around."

Asked if he felt the McGonigle transfer to the Crues with Lowry going to Coleraine as part of the package was now a possibility, McKendry said: "Probably not."

Quizzed on whether a straight cash deal for McGonigle could still be on the cards, the Bannsiders chairman said: "Jamie is a good lad and a young boy. I can understand that when a full-time football club comes in and offers money, someone would want to hear what they have to say.

"He seems to be coping with the situation well and he is professional about it and Oran is totally professional with him as well.

"Whether it happens or not is down to Crusaders at this stage. He is our player and is until the end of the season.

"We do know he has a right to sign a pre contract agreement in January.

"If that is the case so be it, but as long as he conducts himself in a professional manner no one will have any issues about him staying at Coleraine Football Club."

• Former Irish League defender Paul Leeman has taken up a new coaching role with Irish Cup winners Crusaders.

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