Belfast Telegraph

'Two pathetic texts': Crusaders boss Stephen Baxter slams Coleraine over Jamie McGonigle stance


Oran Kearney and Stephen Baxter
Oran Kearney and Stephen Baxter
Crusaders manager Stephen Baxter.
Goal king: Crusaders ace Philip Lowry (second from right) celebrates his goal last night with team-mates (from left) David Cushley, Michael Ruddy and Ross Clarke

By Steven Beacom

Manager Stephen Baxter has questioned Coleraine's "pathetic" stance over Crusaders' potential move for Bannsiders striker Jamie McGonigle.

Baxter was speaking after his side defeated B36 Torshavn from the Faroe Islands 2-0 at Seaview in the first leg of the first qualifying round Europa League tie.

Goals from debutant Chris Hegarty and Philip Lowry moved the Crues a significant step closer to a dream tie with English Premier League outfit Wolves in the next round.

Post-match, Baxter revealed that Coleraine wanted midfielder Lowry as part of the McGonigle deal and stated that would not happen.

He added that the transfer with the Coleraine ace had been agreed before Oran Kearney returned as manager to the Showgrounds, but now it has gone cold.

"If that is how they do business, I can't change that," said Baxter. "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's the disappointment, but that's football."

While the Crues toasted a win, Ballymena United crashed to a 7-0 defeat at Malmo and Cliftonville suffered a 1-0 loss at home to Haugesund.

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Baxter was thrilled with his side's victory last night but the McGonigle transfer saga has clearly rattled him.

"The move (for McGonigle) happened four weeks ago when Oran wasn't in place," said Baxter. "We put two offers in to Coleraine and they were rejected. We then asked them what they wanted and they came up with an amount and we agreed what was a substantial fee.

"The player was sent here and a contract was agreed and everything was done.

"We then waited three days for an answer back from Coleraine because Oran was on his way into the football club. Oran then rang me and asked me what the situation was.

"I said the deal was done and the fee had been agreed and the lad was coming and he wanted to come.

"He said he needed to talk to his people, which I appreciated, but since then I have had two text messages telling me that Coleraine want x amount of money plus Philip Lowry thrown into the deal otherwise there is no deal.

"So the goalposts were changed, but under no circumstances will Philip Lowry be leaving this club. Under no circumstances. That was shot down in flames in a second and that's the last I've heard. Coleraine haven't had the courtesy to get back to me. The ball is firmly in their court."

Kearney said this week: "There's an offer for Jamie but the terms of it aren't ideal from how I would like it to proceed.

"With that, there isn't a deal at this moment in time. I get on great with Jamie, I gave him his debut but I'm also respectful of his wishes. We will see what happens but for the moment he's a Coleraine player."

On last night's victory, Baxter said: "I was very happy with our performance. The players were brilliant and we can go to the second leg with confidence.

"They will have to come out at us but I believe we can create chances and if we score we are in a very good position."

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