Angry Ballymena United boss David Jeffrey has questioned Glentoran's transfer agenda after being left fighting to keep hold of his striker Adam Lecky.
The Irish League transfer window caught fire yesterday with the news that the Glens had tabled £60,000 offers for Cliftonville's Joe Gormley and Sky Blues favourite Lecky.
Cliftonville knocked back the offer for Gormley, with the player happy at Solitude, but the Lecky deal could be done.
The bid for the former Ballinamallard United ace is believed to be the third from the Glens this month and it has left Jeffrey questioning the east Belfast club's motives.
"How this has become public knowledge is bizarre," said Jeffrey, who discussed the bid with Lecky and Ballymena United chairman John Taggart last night. "Adam is not a lump of meat. This situation begs the question are Glentoran really going to go for both players or are they trying to unsettle players? The Glentoran chairman spoke to our chairman and our chairman kept in contact with me.
"From our perspective, we want Adam to stay and sign an extension to his contract. He has worked very hard under Bryan McLaughlin and myself and developed into a fantastic player."
Glens boss Mick McDermott last night defended his club's actions.
"David is one of the most successful managers in Irish League history and you don't get to where he's been without knowing how this business works," said McDermott.
"We make decisions based on quality and improving our squad. Unsettling clubs or players doesn't cross my mind and every other team should be the same. My target is improving my team, not unsettling anyone."
The big money move for Lecky could smash the Irish League transfer record of £55,000, paid by Linfield to Glenavon for Glenn Ferguson in 1998.
It's a record which has stood for 21 years but came close to being broken last summer when Crusaders coughed up around £50,000 for Coleraine striker Jamie McGonigle.
The 23-year-old was a long term transfer target for the Crues before he finally made the switch, agreeing a three-year deal in August.
The Reds issued a statement on Thursday night confirming an offer from Glentoran was rejected, the matter was discussed with Gormley who had no interest in the move and the matter was closed.
McDermott, now with access to significant funds following businessman Ali Pour’s takeover, has already signed striker Andy Mitchell and defender Caolan Marron from Glenavon this month, while defender Keith Cowan has arrived at The Oval from Finn Harps.
With the Glens now prepared to splash the cash, it’s possible that more big transfers could be on the horizon.
There is also uncertainty over Curtis Allen’s future, with the striker out of contract in the summer and Ballymena in the race for his signature, but McDermott added last night: “Curtis is going nowhere. He’s a Glentoran player and we know clubs are interested in him, we accept that.
“He’s part of our plans here and he knows our feelings. There was a straight cash offer made for Adam Lecky, we did not include Curtis in the deal.”
Sitting top of the Danske Bank Premiership following a 15 game unbeaten league run, McDermott’s side are clearly flexing their financial muscles as well as showing their power on the pitch.
The Glens travel to another one of the league’s big spenders tomorrow night, when they take on Larne at Inver Park.
There was further good news for the league leaders when it was confirmed Cameron Stewart has won his appeal following his straight red card against Crusaders last month will not now serve a suspension.
In a busy day of transfer activity, it also emerged that Linfield midfielder Andrew Mitchell was on his way to Larne on a three-and-a-half year deal, with Glentoran’s John Herron also linked with an Inver Park switch.
And Blues boss David Healy confirmed that 21-year-old striker Rory Currie had agreed to join the club on loan from Hearts until the end of the season.
“His arrival will increase our striking options and competition levels within the squad as we approach the run in to the season and I’m looking forward to working with him in training,” said Healy who is also understood to be keeping an eye on Glentoran striker Robbie McDaid.
“We remain busy and active reviewing other possible targets who we may want to bring in before the closure of the transfer window at the end of the month.”
Goalkeeper Berraat Turker (28) has, meanwhile, left Warrenpoint Town after his contract was terminated.
In Scotland, Hearts have submitted an improved offer for Burton Albion’s Northern Ireland striker Liam Boyce.
Burton paid Ross County a reported £500,000 when they beat Hearts and others to Boyce’s signature in 2017.
They are willing to sell him to the highest bidder this month and may accept £200,000 to £250,000 for a quick deal rather than lose the ex-Cliftonville forward for nothing in June.