£120k? Double it just to pick up the telephone

Reports circulating today either 100% confirm or absolutely deny that West Ham have made a £120k move for the Imps Young Player of the Season, Sean Raggett. Whether they have or they haven’t is irrelevant really. I think it is becoming very clear that by the time we kick off in August we will be doing very well to still have Raggs in our side.

The most popular report quoted has been that of the Daily Mail, which would seem to be a reliable source in sporting terms. I checked with the journalist Tom Farmery as to how reliable his source may be, his reply was ‘very’. The click bait sites can talk all they want about these things, but a proper reporter with a ‘proper’ paper? It seems as legit as possible. Short of the club coming out and denying it, I think we have to assume that the interest is fairly solid.

Peterborough and Oxford are preparing bids apparently. I wouldn’t bother lads, especially Peterborough. I look forward to the comments from Danny, something along the lines of ‘we’ve had a bid from Peterborough but the lad wants to play at a higher level’. I suppose is their bid started with a five and had the words ‘plus Harry Anderson’ after it, they might be allowed to ring Danny. As for Oxford, perhaps set your sights a bit lower chaps. Raggs is going to play at the very highest level and I don’t think you can seriously match his ambition.

Some of the circulating reports suggest Dover are due a sell-on fee, anything from 20% to 50%. Again, that seems reasonable, details of Raggs initial move were kept undisclosed but you’d imagine we will be expected to pay them a percentage of any profit we make. If you suppose we paid them £50k for him, and they’d be due 20% of any fee, I really don’t think £120k is going to prise him away.

To gauge what Raggs current worth might be, you only have to look at similar transfers that have taken place. In March of 1987 West Ham was the destination of another promising young centre half of ours, 22-year old Gary Strodder. The fee, thirty years ago, was £100,000. When Liverpool came knocking for Jack Hobbs in August 2005, the 17-year old commanded a fee in the region of £750,000. Unless we’ve gone back thirty years in terms of transfer fees I’m afraid West Ham will have to do significantly better than a meagre £120,000 in 2017 for Sean Raggett. As well as cash up front we’d be wanting a sell-on clause, a friendly and probably a loan of one or two of those wonderful academy players West Ham seem so reluctant to blood in their own first team.

The other aspect to consider is the financial position of the buying club. We are here debating the difference between £120k and £500k, but those figures are small fry for a top flight side. The Premier League is awash with money, and the figures being bandied about for our asset are comparable with a weeks wages for some players. West Ham could afford to add a zero onto the fee and it still wouldn’t represent a significant investment, nor a serious gamble. If they are serious about buying Raggs, then they could show it by offering a proper transfer fee. First West Brom were quoted at £100k, now West Ham at £120k. Those figures are not moving up nearly as quickly as they need to.

After the initial reports of a West Brom bid, Kevin Cooke said that £100k would need ‘doubling’, and Danny stated categorically that Sean Raggett would not leave this football club for anything like £100k. Do buying clubs not read the papers? They need to be careful with these bids, if they continue to show a level of disrespect to Sean and to us over his worth, they may lose out altogether. Remember, Arsenal lost out on Jack Hobbs not over the fee, but because they wouldn’t come and play a friendly. Someone looking to buy my house lost out a few years ago because they bid under the asking price first. My partner and I went in at the asking price first time, and the previous bidder upped his bid to in excess of ours. The seller, rather nobly, accepted our bid as we had shown respect in the first instance. Money doesn’t always talk.

The papers will speculate, but there has to be some substance in the rumours when the same things keep popping up. As the headlines continue I think the likelihood of Raggs being an Imps next season diminish, and I wonder if internally the club are already resigned to losing him. There has been rumoured interest in Fraser Franks, and it would take a cash bid to prise him away. Are Danny and Nicky already putting a contingency in place for when Raggs goes?

If we are going to attract keen and able young talent to the club, they we going to have to demonstrate a willingness to allow them to move on for the right price and the right club. Oxford and Peterborough may have the cheque book open, but even Raggs himself might not see that as a sound career move. If West Ham come in for the player though, I’d expect Danny and Nicky to let him go without a fight, as long as the price is right.

What I think we all need to know is this: are West Ham (and West Brom) willing to pay what we feel the player is worth, and not what they believe they should pay for a so-called ‘non-league’ defender? If they’re not, I wouldn’t even expect their calls to get answered at Sincil Bank. With all of the season ticket frenzy, they probably won’t anyway.