Belfast Telegraph

Crusaders set to net big money in Gavin Whyte transfer as Nottingham Forest prepare to swoop

 

In demand: Gavin Whyte
In demand: Gavin Whyte
Rising star: Gavin Whyte has impressed with NI

By Graham Luney

Crusaders will net a substantial cash injection if Gavin Whyte secures a big money move from Oxford United.

It has been reported that Championship side Nottingham Forest could table a £2m bid for the winger, and if that deal goes through, the Crues will pocket a significant sum of money.

Whyte moved to Oxford in the summer and various add-ons relating to Northern Ireland appearances and a sell-on fee were included in the deal.

The 23-year-old, who scored with his first touch on his Northern Ireland debut last September, has earned even more admirers following his impressive form at Oxford, scoring nine goals, including seven League One strikes, in his first season.

United will be determined to keep their star man and it would take a significant bid for Whyte, who has two years still to run on his deal, to leave the Kassam Stadium.

"If Gavin was to make a big money move it would be good for Crusaders," admitted Crues treasurer Tommy Whiteside.

"If a £2m move was to happen, Crusaders would get a substantial payment, more than we could secure through European qualification.

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"There are other payments and add-ons in the confidential deal, it was quite complex," he said.

Whiteside added: “Northern Ireland appearances bring additional money and more benefits are still to come.

“Gavin has done well and it would be great to see him develop further.”

Forest’s former Republic of Ireland manager Martin O’Neill is an admirer of Whyte but other clubs are likely to show an interest if the Belfast man continues to sparkle for club and country.

Whyte is one of seven members of Michael O’Neill’s squad for the Euro 2020 qualifiers who began their careers in the domestic game — the others are Gareth McAuley, Stuart Dallas, Mark Sykes, Paul Smyth, Liam Boyce and Michael Smith.

O’Neill would like to see the Irish League embrace summer football to raise standards and improve performances in European competition, and there appears to be growing support for a Crusaders proposal for a May to February league. The desire to embrace change may deepen following the news our European places will be reduced from four to three.

“The losing of a European place is no surprise,” added Crues treasurer Whiteside.

“Hopefully we can start doing better in Europe, but you really need to be five or six games minimum into your league campaign to be competitive. Crusaders made a proposal three years ago for a May to February league but it was shot down.

“At the last meeting, which Michael O’Neill hosted, it was a lot more positive and the league needs to realise that all clubs benefit from Uefa through the solidarity payments.

“It’s not a case of ‘them and us’, the funding helps every club in the Premiership. We will have to wait and see whether clubs vote in favour. Crusaders are in favour but you can’t speculate on what other clubs will do.”

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