Belfast Telegraph

Crusaders' move for Jamie McGonigle breaks Irish League transfer record

Striker’s Crues move puts Ferguson’s 1998 transfer to Blues in shade

Jamie McGonigle
Jamie McGonigle

By Steven Beacom

New Crusaders signing Jamie McGonigle has become the Irish League's most expensive ever player following his move from Coleraine, beating a 21-year record in the process.

Glenn Ferguson's £55,000 transfer from Glenavon to Linfield had been the biggest in domestic club football since 1998, but the Belfast Telegraph understands that the financial package which took striker McGonigle to Seaview was worth £60,000.

That means, at £5k more than the move that saw Ferguson swap Mourneview Park for Windsor Park, McGonigle is the most expensive player in Irish League history.

When announcing the 23-year-old's exit on Friday, Coleraine said McGonigle joined the Crues for an undisclosed sum.

There had been a frank exchange of views last month between the clubs when agreement could not be reached.

Bannsiders chairman Colin McKendry said yesterday: "We felt it was the right decision last week for Coleraine Football Club to accept the offer for Jamie from Crusaders.

"We had resisted the move for some time but, with Jamie in the last year of his contract with us, he could have signed a pre-contract elsewhere, so we had to do what was best for the club as a whole.

"Jamie is a fine young player and he is a loss but the offer was worth a lot of money. We will now look to try and find more talented young players, and we have shown we're capable of doing that."

Coleraine, who travel to Glentoran in the Danske Bank Premiership tonight, will aim to use some of the funds from the McGonigle move to strengthen their squad before the August 31 transfer deadline.

Speaking about his long-standing record being broken, ex-Northern Ireland star Ferguson said: “With the amount of money clubs are now bringing in because of European football, I thought it was only a matter of time that there would be a new Irish League record transfer fee.

“It doesn’t bother me at all. Records are made to be broken and I’d amazed if the new record stands for 21 years with all the finances that clubs like Linfield, Crusaders and others are earning from Europe.

“When I signed for Linfield, the Blues needed to borrow the money from the European Supporters Club, whereas things are a lot different now.

“With the finance about these days, if a high quality player comes along it may not be long before we have the first £100,000 signing in the Irish League.

“For this deal, I’d say Coleraine are happy, Crusaders are happy to sign Jamie and the player will be happy too. It will be fascinating to see how Jamie does. He’s a talented young player and, like myself 21 years ago, there will be pressure put on him.

“What he should think is what I felt in 1998, that the fee is nothing to do with him and is between the two clubs. He needs to focus on his football.

“Crusaders already have Jordan Owens and Paul Heatley who are very, very effective, but they aren’t going to pay that money for Jamie and not play him, so it will be interesting to see where he fits in or if they will change their system.

“It’s a lot of money to pay out but it’s clear Crusaders really wanted him, which should give him confidence going forward.”

The Bannsiders began life without McGonigle with a 1-1 draw at home to Cliftonville on Saturday but will be looking to register their first win of the season — and boss Oran Kearney’s first victory since returning from St Mirren — against the Glens this evening.

Mick McDermott’s side also began the campaign with a 1-1 draw; Darren Murray scoring the first goal of the new Premiership campaign before Sammy Clingan drew Glenavon level in Friday night’s opening encounter at Mourneview.

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