David Jeffrey last night delivered his answer to Noel Bailie’s critics as he handed the veteran skipper a one-year deal.
The 39-year-old has made an astonishing 1,002 appearances for the Blues and his remarkable Linfield odyssey is set to continue into next season.
One-year deals were also awarded to Bailie’s centre-back partner William Murphy, Kris Lindsay and goalkeeper Stuart Addis.
And in another sign that the club is phasing out its full-time culture, Damien Curran signed a two-year part-time deal.
Conor Hagan has not been offered a new contract while Aidan O’Kane has been placed on the transfer list.
O’Kane, who has spent seven years at Linfield, will now have to seek a new challenge after being let go one year into a two-year deal. Injuries disrupted a campaign in which he made only seven appearances.
Left-back Jonny Harkness has left the club by mutual consent with one year left on his contract.
Bailie, who has won nine league titles and six Irish Cups at Linfield, just keeps on going and will now wear the famous jersey beyond his 40th birthday in February.
Many were surprised he was handed a one-year deal this time last year — when Jeffrey let another Blues legend Glenn Ferguson leave the club — but Bailie’s assured performances in the final weeks of the campaign underlined his value to the club.
Murphy’s new deal caps a terrific end to what has been a turbulent year for the big centre-back. A year ago Murphy was incarcerated in Spain facing counterfeit currency charges, but that nightmare is now firmly behind him as he helped the club to a fourth double in five seasons.
Curran’s part-time deal is an interesting development as Linfield look to cut their budget.
A new wage cap is set to be introduced in the Carling Premiership and the Blues, along with their rivals, will only be able to spend 55 per cent of their income on players’ wages.
Jeffrey has expressed fears that “illegal dealings” will take place, but all players are going to see their wages slashed.
Meanwhile, Linfield will face The New Saints in a Windsor Park friendly at 3pm on Saturday July, 3.