Outstanding Sykes can sparkle in England after January transfer, says Glenavon chairman
Glenavon chairman Adrian Teer has confirmed that Mark Sykes should move to Port Vale in what is an "exciting opportunity" for the Northern Ireland Under-21 ace.
The Lurgan Blues have accepted an offer from Port Vale for the midfielder, but the 21-year-old will need to agree terms with the League Two club and pass a medical.
It's a significant blow for Glenavon to lose their rising star in mid-season but Teer insists the club will never "stand in the way" of a young player chasing his full-time dream.
Glenavon are happy with the transfer fee, which includes a down payment and add-ons, while Sykes will have the opportunity to showcase his talent on a bigger stage.
Hibernian, Hearts, Oxford United and Blackburn Rovers have all cast admiring glances towards Sykes but Port Vale's improved offer was enough to seal the deal.
"A fee has been agreed with Port Vale for the transfer of Mark Sykes," confirmed Teer. "It's now up to Port Vale to agree personal terms with Mark and complete a medical. They would want him next month, and it's a shame to lose such a talented young player, but you can never stand in the way of someone progressing their career in this manner and having a go at full-time football.
"Of course it's mixed emotions for the club because he has been an outstanding player for us. In some aspects it's unsatisfactory to lose him at this stage of the season but Glenavon's policy is not to stand in the way of a young player who wants to make a go of it.
"Mark follows a number of youngsters this club have been able to develop and put across the water in recent years such as Bobby Burns (Hearts) and young Shayne Lavery at Everton.
"While we are very sorry to lose him, it's an exciting opportunity for him."
Teer added: “Life must go on for both parties and we will always wish him all the best.”
Glenavon boss Gary Hamilton added: “We’ve agreed terms with Port Vale. It’s now up to Mark.”
Sykes has scored 19 goals in 134 appearances for Glenavon since making his debut against Glentoran in March 2014. He has also contributed 19 assists.
The classy midfielder has scored three goals in 19 appearances for the Lurgan Blues this season and also scored for the international Under-21 team in their Euro qualifier 1-0 win over Slovakia in October.
Port Vale are in 15th place in the 24-club League Two and, while some observers may feel that Sykes has the ability to play at an even higher level, this move will offer the player a good chance of first team football rather than sitting on the bench in a higher league.
His former Glenavon team-mate Bobby Burns secured a move to Hearts in the summer and is currently on loan at Livingston, where he is getting valuable game time.
While other clubs could table a late offer for Sykes, Port Vale appear to have won the race for his signature.
“The transfer still has to be completed as terms need to be agreed and he must pass a medical,” added Teer.
“Nothing is finalised until the formal agreement is done. He’s a very exciting young midfield player.
“In the Irish League we have seen some incredible talent come through and Mark will have the opportunity to develop at Port Vale and make good for himself across the channel.
“It’s not a good deal to lose Mark Sykes but we are content with Port Vale’s offer, and we always made it clear to the young players we will help their careers. It’s the usual down payment with add-ons and the club is happy with the terms.”
Hamilton added: “There has been a lot of interest in Mark in recent transfer windows but Port Vale came back with a second offer after we initially rejected their first one.
“I’ve said all along I wanted Mark to achieve his dream of making it in full-time football, and as a club we were never going to stand in his way if the right offer was made. We are happy with the deal now and it’s now down to Mark to discuss the move with Port Vale.”
Speaking on Saturday, Hamilton had indicated that Glenavon could recall Robbie Norton from his loan spell at Warrenpoint, should Sykes move on in January.
“We’ve got three or four weeks to go and we’ll assess it,” said Hamilton. “If Sykes goes, we’ll need a midfielder in so that might change things, but if Sykes stays, then Robbie needs game time. That’s the reality of it.”