The Scum newspaper suggested last month that Millwall had already lodged a bid with City for Sean Raggett, and whilst that was typical of their ‘journalism’ it seems there may have been some basis to the rumour.
Millwall fan site ‘News at Den’ reports that manager Neil Harris is keen to take Sean Raggett down to South London this summer, and they feel he’ll have the edge over any potential West Brom bid. They point to the fact Harris and Danny Cowley have already done business before, Millwall’s Tom King spending time on loan at Braintree last season.
Whilst it is no surprise that Sean is being linked with clubs, I can’t help but feel if he does move then his destination will not be League One. Millwall face a two-legged play-off against Scunthorpe to earn the right to face either Fleetwood or Bradford, and if they fail to win that I can’t see how Neil Harris and Danny Cowley knowing each other will be of any benefit at all. Failure to be promoted will leave them one level above us, and in the grand scheme of things that won’t be enough to tempt the player away from this Lincoln side.
Raggs is going to be hot property, as are several of our players. He is contracted to the club and Danny spoke out to the Echo after West Brom were linked with a £100,000 move for our big centre half.
“He certainly won’t be leaving this football club for £100,000. Sean has been brilliant. They’re all going to have interest because of the way they have performed, and that’s what we want. We want players that other clubs would want because that means that they’re good players. But we’re on a journey and we’re very ambitious. The great thing now for Lincoln City is that if anyone is going to leave, they’re going to have to leave for a very big club.”
That statement alone should be enough to really scupper any hopes Neil Harris has of taking Raggs to the New Den. For a start you’d have to question if Millwall are a ‘very big’ club in the first instance. They’re in League One and whilst they are bigger than Lincoln, they’re not in the same bracket as the likes of West Brom, Stoke or Fulham. Those sorts of names might be able to tempt Raggett away, but a League One club?
I also get the impression that articles linking him with a move are suggesting that these bigger sides are looking for the ‘next’ Chris Smalling or Jamie Vardy, the next hot thing to come out of the National League. Without wanting to state the obvious, Sean Raggett has come out of the non-league already. He’s a League Two defender, and that moves him out of the ‘bargain’ bracket and into the realms of a proper transfer fee. Chris Smalling left Maidstone for Fulham for around £110,000 (£10k up fronts and £10k per league appearance up to 10 outings). I’ll guarantee when he signed for Manchester United from Fulham that fee was a seven-figure sum. Similarly Jamie Vardy might have moved for modest five-figure sums in the non-league, but by the time Fleetwood were Football League his fee to move to Leicester was £1m. Anyone wanting a bargain should have pressed harder six months ago, because now we’re Football League the dynamic of any transfer has changed.
Kevin Cooke was equally as brutal when pressed to comment on the rumours.
“I’ve seen a lot on social media with people chucking numbers about. But all the numbers I’ve seen on social media are nowhere near what they’d have to offer. Let’s not be negative, let’s not talk about Sean Raggett leaving. At the end of the day, we want Sean Raggett in our team next season. He is part of our plans. As far as we’re concerned he is a Lincoln City player.”
That is also music to Imps fans ears. I commented last week that ultimately if you’re in League Two and a Premiership club wants one of your players, you’re a selling club. I think Imps fans are worried that we might accept bids from League One sides, and that might signal a lack of ambition given that we hope to be plying our trade in that league in the next couple of seasons. To be promoted to the Football League we needed Football League quality players, so for next season if we want to get to League One we need to retain players of that quality.
If Sean Raggett signed for West Brom this summer I don’t think anyone would begrudge him a move, nor criticise the club for allowing him to move on. A move to a side in League One, or even a side just promoted to the Championship wouldn’t be seen as such a ‘once in a lifetime’ chance for the player, and I think we’d all be disappointed to lose him to them.
The real coup would be to keep him at Sincil Bank. The player hasn’t spoken of a desire to leave at all, it is just lazy national journalists looking at linking our headline players with moves away. After the cup run they were always going to want to link our players with moves because their readers have heard of them. If they actually dug around they might find that Sean Raggett isn’t the bargain buy they’re hoping to package him as in their poxy rags. If they actually studied the National League they would perhaps be identifying Chester defender Sam Hughes as the real bargain buy, out of contract at Chester and rated very highly. He may well come up from the National League and settle nicely at a League One club for free. When it comes to Sean Raggett I think upper Championship and half a million pounds would be nothing more than the absolute essential starting point before we even sat at a negotiating table.
Thanks as always to Graham Burrell for the photographs