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Ronnie McFall on why Portadown are right to demand top fee for Lee Bonis but how big money presents ‘danger’ to Irish League

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In demand: Lee Bonis is admired by Glentoran, Larne and Linfield

In demand: Lee Bonis is admired by Glentoran, Larne and Linfield

©INPHO/Stephen Hamilton

In demand: Lee Bonis is admired by Glentoran, Larne and Linfield

Irish League legend Ronnie McFall says Portadown are right to demand a huge transfer fee from Glentoran for striker Lee Bonis.

The Glens have been told there’s a £100,000 price tag on the head of the 22-year-old as the clubs negotiate either a straight cash offer or money-plus-player deal.

Linfield and Larne are also admirers of Ports skipper Bonis but Blues boss David Healy said the club wouldn’t be held to ransom during what he called a “mental” transfer market.

The Glens forked out close to £120,000 for Shay McCartan from Ballymena United and with Bonis on a long-term contract, Portadown are determined he won’t leave Shamrock Park on the cheap.

McFall spent almost 30 years in charge of Portadown, winning four Irish League titles and three Irish Cups before resigning in 2016.

He also played for Glentoran from 1975 to 1979 before taking over as manager and leading the side to an unbeaten season in 1980-81 as they were crowned league champions.

“I can understand why Portadown have asked for a big fee,” said McFall, who returned to The Oval after a 34-year absence to take charge after Gary Haveron’s dismissal.

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“They are right to get as much as they can get from a transfer.

“You can’t fault any club for that.

“There’s also the option of adding players into a transfer deal to get it done.

“There are a few teams interested in Lee and it comes down to money.”

Bonis last year penned a new five-year deal at Shamrock Park and if he leaves the mid-Ulster club, boss Matthew Tipton will need reinforcements to help them steer clear of a relegation fight.

McFall, who brought Tipton to the Ports, believes Glentoran’s Irish League transfer record purchase of Shay McCartan has transformed the transfer market in Northern Ireland.

“I was shocked to see an Irish League player cost a six-figure sum and now that has pushed up other players’ value,” he added.

“There’s new money in the league now following the investment in Larne and Glentoran.

“Linfield have always been well off financially.

“You hope that the money can benefit the rest of the league but once you raise the bar in terms of transfer fees, everyone’s price seems to go up. Suddenly a player worth £10,000 now costs £20,000.

“It’s a concern for the clubs lower in the place as they don’t have the finances to compete.

“If they try to compete with the richer clubs they will overspend, meanwhile they will lose their best players if the richer clubs are cherry-picking them.”

McCartan’s transfer to Glentoran last summer saw Glenn Ferguson’s transfer fee of £55,000 back in 1998 to move from Glenavon to Linfield smashed.

McFall added: “In all leagues in the world the best players command the best money and if clubs want the better players it will cost them.

“But the modern day players are earning a lot more than in the past. The difference is massive, no question.

“I’ve heard players are earning much more than £1,000 a week and there doesn’t appear to be a salary cap.

“You may find clubs looking further afield rather than spending a huge amount on a local player.

“There is a danger of young lads being overlooked. If a young player has the talent and right attitude, then he deserves his chance.

“It’s only natural that if the top, wealthier sides get stronger then the sides lower in the league will suffer more. The money is in Europe and if you get a run in Europe the riches are significant.”

Tipton has admitted that every player has a price, adding: “It’s going to take something special to take him away from us.”


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