Derry City boss Ruaidhrí Higgins outlines how League of Ireland clubs can get transfer ‘value’

Derry City manager Ruaidhrí Higgins believes tying players to long term deals is the only way League of Ireland clubs can get ‘good value’ for their players.

During the summer transfer window City lost skipper Eoin Toal to League One side Bolton Wanderers while the likes of Dawson Devoy, Promise Omochere, Daniel Mandroiu, Ed McGinty, Josh Keeley, James Abankwah, Darragh Burns, Liam Kerrigan and Eric Yoro all departed the league in July.

Unfortunately not many of those deals brought in significant transfer fees, something former St. Patrick’s Athletic Premier Division title winner, Conan Byrne, wasn’t happy about when stating on Twitter: “A player of Ed’s (Ed McGinty) ability leaving for five figures is embarrassing even if it is expected to reach six. Has made over 100 games for the club, keeping 28 clean sheets and represented @FAIreland U21. We are absolute mugs!!!!!!”

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Higgins says long term contracts are the obvious solution for clubs seeking to keep hold of prized assets or at least to ensure a significant transfer fee when selling their better players.

Derry City's Mark Connolly, who signed from Dundee United, scored on his debut against Oliver Bond Celtic. Picture by Kevin Moore/MC

“The way I look at it is that our key players - I suppose market value if you want to call it that - it’s trying to spot their talent early and get them on long term deals and not to let them get into the last 18 months or year of their contract. That’s what we have been trying to do,” explained Higgins.

“It protects the club more. Every club is different in how they go about their business but if you want decent transfer fees then first of all you need players on longer term deals and don’t allow them to get into the latter stages of their contract.”

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The Limavady man admitted that every player has different aspirations and stressed clubs must respect that.

“You have to respect that each individual is different. Some players might have huge ambitions to go and try something different,” he added.

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“I’m just using Eoin Toal as an example. He had ambitions for a few years now about trying to make a move across the water. I wasn’t involved in the contract that he signed but given the fact that he only had a few months left on his contract the club got a fair enough deal.

“You can’t physically make a player sign, it’s about trying to convince them it’s the right place for them but every player has different ambitions.

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“Will Patching for example is extremely happy here and was happy to sign here. Don’t get me wrong, Eoin was happy here also but he had different ambitions. Will Patching has tasted England, Eoin hasn’t, so everyone is different.”

In some deals involving other League of Ireland clubs, players had clauses in their contracts and Higgins said there isn’t much anyone can do about that.

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“You might lose out on a player if you don’t put clauses in their contract,” he stated. “Young players are ambitious. Now I’m not saying Will Patching is going to be here for the rest of his life, far from it, but I’m sure he has his own internal ambitions and I’m just using Will as an example.

“It’s one of them that you mightn’t be able to attract a player unless you put clauses in, so then it’s about trying to get the best clause possible but personally I think signing players on as long a deal as possible is the way to get some reward if you do sell.”

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The Derry boss also praised City board member Sean Barrett for balancing the books after a busy July for the club.

“Sean Barrett has been absolutely brilliant. He’s been on the ball and has done really good business .

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“Sean has been excellent, Philip (O’Doherty) obviously, Dodie (McGuinness) and Alan Reynolds, we’ve all been working extremely hard behind the scenes.”

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