Daylight robbery at the Brandywell

Daniel Lafferty recently joined English Championship outfit Burnley from Derry City in a deal thought to be in the region of £150,000-£200,000. The move is a great loss for Derry City, both in terms of the loss of Lafferty’s talent and the pittance which they received for his services.

Here is a left-footed 22 year old former under-21 international who has proven himself at the highest level in Ireland. In fact, his tremendous form in the 2011 season saw him nominated for the PFAI young player of the year award and he was included in the same League of Ireland squad as James McClean and Daniel Kearns that took on Celtic and Man City in the Dublin Super Cup.

He has an abundance of potential, a fact which has been recognised by new Northern Ireland manager, Michael O’Neill who suggested he could receive a call-up in the near future, regardless of where he’s playing. £200,000? Derry were robbed.

Some might say that Irish clubs have little choice in the matter. British clubs tend to hold all the cards when it comes to setting fees and the best thing that an Irish club could hope for is a few add-on fees based on potential appearances and so-forth.

Being a “small” club, they probably feel a burden of not wanting to be an impediment to the player’s move to the “big-time”. But clubs must ultimately act in their own interests, after all, one player is not bigger than the team.

Irish leagues have been exporting an increasing number of talented individuals as English clubs look to snap up bargains. Over the past year, several players have secured moves to top British clubs from Irish clubs: Enda Stevens went from Shamrock Rovers to Aston Villa, Rory Donnelly signed for Swansea from Cliftonville, Derry’s James McClean and Daniel Lafferty went to Sunderland and Burnley respectively, Daniel Kearns left Dundalk for Peterborough and Graham Cummins recently signed for Preston from Cork City.

Older cases, such as Kevin Doyle, Shane Long, Seamus Coleman and Keith Fahey are all current Ireland internationals a short period after having played in Irish leagues. Each of them cost around the same amount as Lafferty, but after just a few short seasons, their worth has multiplied considerably.

Indeed, some players’ worth has multiplied after only a few games: take the case of another Derry City export James McClean, for example. However Derry City fans will tell you that while McClean’s fitness may have improved, he is pretty much the same player that he was when he was at the Brandywell – fast, direct, fearless, with an eye for a pass as well as a goal. He didn’t magically become 10 times the player he was overnight.

The relative success of the aforementioned players should give Irish clubs the right to demand more for their most talented players. If Irish teams lose these players for such low fees, the standard of the Irish domestic game will struggle to progress.

Say the fee for Lafferty was doubled: Derry could then invest some of it into improving their facilities as well as having the option of investing in a replacement. In Daniel Lafferty, Derry City have lost arguably the best left back in Irish football and a dedicated professional who has many years ahead of him in the game. £200,000 is an insult of a fee for a player of his calibre.

The Author

Ryan Kelly

Ryan Kelly is a regular contributor to SportsNews Ireland, Sin Newspaper and Back Page Football as well as maintaining his own blog. A Derry City fan, he has written variously about Irish football and has a particular interest in the FIFA eligibility debate.

21 thoughts on “Daylight robbery at the Brandywell

  1. You say it’s pittance but don’t actually say what you think he is worth, making it a pointless blog.

    £200,000 is alot of money for a team playing in these leagues.

  2. Dry your eyes mate. As of yet we have yet to see this great potential daniel has ? . But next season who knows 200k a good deal for all concerned.

    1. Or he could be another Kevin Doyle who makes a shitload for the club who signed him for pittence while the League of Ireland club get next to nothing in comparison.

      There have been enough success stories of players from the League of Ireland in the UK recently (Doyle, Long, Fahey, McCourt, Forde, Hoolahan, McClean…) for the transfer fees to be a bit more respectable now.

  3. Whilst in time it may well prove to be true that Derry City have recived a poor fee for Lafferty, you have completely ignored the risk involved for Burnley and the huge step up in standard that is required of the player. If he is not up to Championship standard then it is £200k down the drain for the Clarets. £400k+ is the kind of fee that a proven Championship full back would command. Lafferty is not a proven Championship full back yet and may never be so. There is an easy and fair way round this and that is to have a sell-on clause in the contract. Of course when a biggger club comes along after Burnley players then we find ourselves in exactly the same situation of having to sell, often for a fee lower than we would like. This is a fact of life in the transfer market, which no doubt Burnley will have to contend with over the Summer when the Premier league teams start sniffing round our striker Jay Rodriguez. It is not just an issue for Derry or Irish clubs to deal with.

    1. Hi sedberg. Thanks for the measured and fair comment. I would argue that all transfers present a risk, regardless of who the player is – injuries, retirements, changes in circumstances cannot be predicted. Granted this will vary.

      Examples such as Seamus Coleman and James McClean, who went from the League of Ireland to the Premier League in the space of a few months, tell me that the top players will not have to make that much of a step up. The gap for some players isn’t as huge as some would believe.

  4. In any case, the title of your article is inaccurate in the sense that it blames Burnley for ‘robbery,’ whilst your complaint would be better addressed to the directors of Derry City who accepted the fee.

    1. How can it be “inaccurate”? I am not literally saying Burnley are robbing Lafferty – it is a turn of phrase, to sum up a fan’s feeling of loss. My opinion is aimed primarily at Derry City Football Club, as well as other Irish clubs.

      1. The word ‘robbery’ [i]is[/i] inaccurate whichever way you claim to have meant it – and you’re not the only football fan who sometimes feels obliged to defend his club.

    2. The word ‘robbery’ IS inaccurate, whichever way you claim to have meant it – and you’re not the only football fan who sometimes feels obliged to defend his club.

  5. If this Lafferty lad is so good, why has he signed for Burnley and not a better Championship club or a team in the Premier League?

    £200,000 is a lot of dosh for a club like Burnley to spend on an unproven player.

    1. Lafferty is 22 years of age, was a regular under 21 international and played competitively in Scotland as well as the highest level in Ireland. He was also a standout player in the Dublin Super Cup. He was not exactly unproven. Several clubs wanted Lafferty, including West Ham, Derby and Sunderland, so his talent was widely noted. As to why he chose to sign for Burnley, that is a personal choice – maybe he was impressed by the staff, the facilities, or maybe he thought he’d progress faster at a “lesser” club.

      1. Or maybe, just maybe, the suggested price of about 200k represents his true value as it stands to all parties concerned.

        To the “lesser” clubs (btw, a patronising statement) like Burnley 200k is a substantial layout for potential, and as has been said earlier, its up to both parties to reach a mutually acceptable fee. If the Derry City board did not like the deal, then thry should have pulled out.

        The gist of your article seems, to me, to be a whinge and moan about how Irish football is not getting a big enough cut of the money machine that is football.

        1. You are quite correct, I think Irish clubs should be looking for more money, why shouldn’t they? I wouldn’t use the terms “whinge and moan”, but there you go. The comment I replied to painted Burnley as a club that was somehow lesser than other Championship clubs. By no means was I being patronising.

  6. Why has the article been aimed at Burnley and Lafferty when Mclean was signed for just £350k by Sunderland and already worth at least ten times that already in just a few months?

    Lafferty has hardly kicked a ball for Burnley and as such your article doesn’t make sense as he is still to prove whether he is worth any amount of money never mind £200k.

  7. I can understand Derry being upset about Mclean but as for Lafftery it could still prove to be a very good deal for them.

    Silly article missing the whole point of the argument and not daring to mention a premier league club directly in a negative manner.

    I suppose thats how it works these days.

  8. As with any club, Burnley are only looking out for their own interests. Why would they offer to pay more than Derry are willing to accept? The responsibility ultimately lies with the Irish clubs accepting these offers. No-one’s forcing their hand. If the clubs are not in a position to demand higher fees, that’s something for them to look at and build on. If League of Ireland clubs were able to plan their affairs on a more stable, secure and longer-term basis, they’d be in a much better position to make demands rather than capitulate to measly bids.

  9. Maybe I didn’t make it clear enough in the article, but I am basically calling for Irish clubs to use as much leverage as they can to demand greater fees for their best players. Using terms such as “robbery” and an “insult” of a fee merely demonstrate my sense of loss as a supporter. I am not criticising Burnley for being self-interested.

  10. LOI players are in demand because they are bargains. If they become too expensive, the EPL most likely will pass on them. It is a good situation right now, with the young Irish players staying in Ireland rather than being burned out in the academies across the water. The good ones will prosper and bring a few quid to the LOI. We get to see fine talent on the way up. It’s one season in the sun at a time. So enjoy!

  11. Like all football fans, I well understand the sense of loss – Burnley would surely have been solidly in the play-offs now, if Fletcher and Eagles had not been lured to PL clubs.
    However, if the blog’s purpose is to criticise Derry’s directors who negotiated the Lafferty deal, then – fan or not – the headline should reflect that intention, and not be critical (and arguably, insulting) of BFC.
    The content appears to suggest that highly-rated youngsters at Irish clubs should move for higher fees because their merit and potential is evident.
    Not so of course.
    Burnley paid one of those ubiquitous ‘six-figure fees’ for Cork City’s highly-rated Kevin Long in Jan 2010, and so far he has shown nothing to suggest he will survive at Champ level; during loan spells at Accy Stanley and Rochdale.

  12. It’s easy to give a list of names who have been a success and then provide this as evidence of the smooth transition between the LOI and the upper reaches of the English leagues, the only way to give a balanced opinion is to list all the transfers between the two leagues including fees over a certain period and see how they have coped with the step up and where they are now, the list will definitely be much longer for the ones who have failed.

    Also remember talk of £200,000 is very simplistic, if you add on signing on fees and salary over the term of the contract then the total cost is much higher and this is for a player who is in no way guaranteed to be good enough to make the grade, i’d suggest the true cost to Burnley is way over £500,000.

    You say that West Ham, Derby and Sunderland ‘wanted’ Lafferty, i can assure you if they were in for him a serious way then he’d be nowhere near Turf Moor, scouting a player and thinking he’s good enough to be signed are two completely different things.

    I can sympathise with your view as a fan as we all feel that way but it’s supply and demand, if the LOI is producing such high quality players then more Premier League teams will be interested and the subsequent bidding wars will see the teams getting the true value for their players, the facts are that the league is not up to such a high standard and so average players are made to look like world beaters when unfortunately they are nothing of the sort.

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