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Sunday 19 November 2017

Rovers say Clever Trevor won't go back on the cheap

Trevor Clarke, right, of Shamrock Rovers celebrates with team-mate Simon Madden
Trevor Clarke, right, of Shamrock Rovers celebrates with team-mate Simon Madden

It's practically taken for granted that former Middlesbrough trainee Trevor Clarke, currently starring for Shamrock Rovers, will earn a move back across the water.

The only issue is money, and how much of it the Hoops will get for the sale. And while a cross-channel report this week that Southampton had "lined up" a bid of £1million for Clarke is well wide of the mark, Rovers boss Stephen Bradley hopes that the days of players leaving the league for a paltry transfer fee are gone.

Rovers have, quietly, tied Clarke down on a deal which runs until June 2019 and while Bradley says the club have not set a fee for the 19-year-old, the mood in the Rovers camp is that Clarke will not be moving away for a few quid and a bag of footballs.

"If a player is good enough a team will play whatever they want to pay for him. These teams are coming to watch him. I know there is a lot of interest in him," says Bradley, who welcomes Clarke back from suspension for tonight's game at home to Drogheda United.

"A lot of clubs have rang me about him. I've told them the truth about Trevor, where I believe he can play and what he can do. We're not trying to hide anything about him. We know where he's going to go and we're trying to protect ourselves.

"I have no problem if clubs are interested in Trevor, he's a top player and you know what I think of him. If he keeps doing what he's doing people are going to want him and that's fine by me so long as he keeps doing what he's doing."

So would a move for Clarke break the record for the sale of an LOI player, set by Sunderland's €500,000 purchase of Roy O'Donovan?

"Trevor's performances dictate. If he doesn't perform for us, there is no interest. If he does perform and these clubs come in, then the fee rises. It's all down to him," says Bradley.

"If I was an English manager now, I'd sign him tomorrow. That's my honest opinion. I have told you from day one what I think of him. I really believe he can go and do whatever he wants to do.

"People talk about (Seamus) Coleman, when he was this age; Trevor is right on that level at this age. He (Coleman) has obviously gone on, done what he has done, but in terms of all their attributes, if you look at both they are very similar at this age."

Transfer fees involving League of Ireland players have been, like the league itself, up and down.

Back in the 1980s, Rovers in particular earned fees which were relatively big for the era when they sold the likes of Jim Beglin (Liverpool), Liam O'Brien (Manchester United), Liam Buckley (Waragem) and Alan Campbell (Racing Santander).

But soon after, the market dropped and the relatively small numbers of players who moved from the league went for peanuts, like Roy Keane's £15,000 move to Nottingham Forest.

Sunderland were a Premier League club in 1999 but still paid a measly £30,000 for Kilkenny City's Michael Reddy. (Sunderland that summer would pay a fee 50 times that for one Milton Nunez, who made one appearance for the Black Cats in contrast to Reddy's 10 outings).

Midway through the last decade things did improve. Stung by the fire-sale of Kevin Doyle and Shane Long for a combined fee/pittance of €80,000, Cork City became more demanding and the sales (2007-08) of Alan Bennett, Roy O'Donovan and Dave Mooney brought in €1.3million.

Keith Fahey's 2009 move to Birmingham City earned St Pat's an estimated €500,000 all in - though the English side clearly chanced their arm with an initial bid of just €50,000 up front.

In recent years, mainly due to the fact that cash-strapped LOI clubs could only offer their players one-year deals, the market has again slumped.

So, Preston have been able to sign the league's top striker Sean Maguire for just €150,000, once they met the buy-out clause in his contract, while they are trying to agree a fee for Maguire's Cork team-mate Kevin O'Connor.

And Dundalk got nothing at all when Daryl Horgan and Andy Boyle moved to Preston.

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