Reports that the bid from West Ham United has been turned down, along with two others, has really drawn a line in the sand when it comes to losing our best players. In years gone by an approach by West Ham, or indeed quarter of a million pounds, would be very hard to turn down. This isn’t years gone by though, this is the Cowley era, and here we do things differently.
I don’t know what I expected, I didn’t think for one second that £125k would prise him away. Reports suggest that the other two clubs in the race were using cash rather than status to add credibility to their bid, and that somewhere in the region of £250k was on the cards. No deal there either, many apologies Oxford and Peterborough. I did wonder if that might be deemed enough, but luckily it is not.
It is said that bids will have to alter ‘significantly’ if Sean Raggett is to leave this summer, but don’t let that make you think he will definitely be an Imp next season. You and I know that £125k is too low, we now know £250k is too low, but those figures are chicken feed to the likes of West Ham. If they want him, and they think he is good enough to reap some form of reward they’ll be back. I don’t think they’ll throw £1m at us, not for one minute, but my gut feeling now is a figure of £600k is the starting point for negotiations. That might just rule out Oxford, and Peterborough no longer have the Lee Angol bargaining chip so any response from them will be interesting.
Our refusal of the bid makes no difference to Harry Anderson and his chances of coming to Sincil Bank. As I understand it he is currently out of contract, but if we offered him a deal we’d then need to go to a tribunal for them to set the fee. If that were to happen, and I’m not saying it will, expect us to be forking out a new record transfer fee this summer.
Back to Raggs, it is flattering I’m sure for both player and manager that he is attracting such interest, but I suspect the player will think long and hard about his next destination. If he is going to get the very best from his career, I don’t think a move to West Ham is in his best interests. There is a lot of pressure there, they expect to spend big now they have the new stadium and that money floating around, and the reaction from their fans to the bids was less than positive. If he moves to the Hammers he might find himself stagnating in the reserves without games, think a much more expensive version of Jonny Margetts, but at a much bigger club.
The sensible move for Sean Raggett would be to a Championship team, and at present there isn’t one in the race. If he stays put he stands a good chance of being League One in twelve months time anyway, and he’ll know working with the Cowley brothers is best for his career right now. However, the second tier could offer first team football, and if that is the case it would be wrong of us to hold him back. With the greatest of respect I do not expect us to be Championship in two years, and I believe Sean is good enough to play at that level now.
Where does the tug-of-war go now? Well, I expect at least one of the clubs to come back with a revised bid. Barry Fry is a businessman and he’ll know that Sean Raggett isn’t far away from becoming a £1m defender. I think Oxford will probably drop out of the race, but Barry will be back if he sees value for money, and as a shrewd football man I think he will. West Ham will probably be back, this bid tested the water but if they’re serious about him I suspect they’ll be prepared to filer some of their money down. I expect West Brom will come in for him as well, and I have a sneaky suspicion that another club might be primed to make a move.
Something in the back of my head tells me Ipswich might enter the race at some point. They saw first hand what he can offer, they’ve lost Christophe Berra and a figure of £600k-£900k wouldn’t be too much for them to stretch to. Location-wise it might be a good move for the player, heading closer to home which could mean he settles quicker, and Ipswich might just be the sort of club with which he can get some starts under his belt, and build a reputation on something more than promising non-league defender.
Of course, in an ideal world he stays put and builds that reputation here, but if that was the case we’d be needing him to put his autograph on the bottom of a spanking new contract, maybe one with a seven-figure buy-out clause to give him hope of a move, but with two or three years of guaranteed wages to give us peace of mind that he’ll not go for free next summer.
One thing we must be wary of is the famous ‘sell-on’ clause. In this day and age it isn’t worth the paper it is written on, players move around far too freely for it to guarantee any real return. Look at Scott Loach, at one point he seemed primed to make a £7m move from Watford to Spurs, bringing us £700k at a crucial time. He moved for free, and we got nothing. I’m not a big one for clauses of any kind, appearance, international appearances or anything like that. Give us what the player is worth, in cash, up front, and we can all go about our business.
One thing is for certain, to coin a phrase from a grounded and (apparently) very expensive young man: we won’t let anybody run away with our best players.