Sligo title heroes get contract deadline
SLIGO Rovers manager Ian Baraclough will give his out-of-contract stars a fortnight to commit their future to the club and warned them there are plenty of players in England who would love to be in their position.
The Bit O'Red lifted the league trophy for only the third time in their history on Friday night, but, in the aftermath of the celebrations, discussion centred on the future.
There is unhappiness in the dressing room that the Sligo board waited until the league was won before opening discussions about new deals. The majority of Baraclough's squad are now officially free agents, who will sign on the dole over the winter.
Other clubs have moved quicker with regard to 2013 and key players Mark Quigley and Jason McGuinness could be bound for Shamrock Rovers.
Sligo have defended their actions by stressing that they did not wish to make commitments before knowing how much prize money they would win. Now they are ready to push on by offering Baraclough a contract extension and accelerating talks with the league-winning heroes.
The manager himself is keen to move quickly and is ready to set a deadline. "I'm looking to go back to England in a couple of weeks and I will be taking in a lot of games and watching players. There are a lot of people who would love to be playing Champions League -- who would jump at that opportunity," said Baraclough.
"We will look at the squad in the next couple of weeks and those that want to hang out and wait for more and those who want to go elsewhere -- well, do it within the next couple of weeks because I will be bringing in people if not."
Sligo captain Danny Ventre has appealed to the board to keep this group together.
"I'd love to be able to sign everyone back myself," said the Liverpudlian, who hopes the Connacht club will be in a position to offer two-year deals and pay over the winter.
"Lads would dive at that. They don't want to go three months over Christmas time with no money. They've got bills, mortgages, children, girlfriends, wives -- they've got to support them. It's just the way the league is and it's sad. But this club is on the up and they do look after the players.
"I think in a few days' time, after we've all come back from our parties, they might try to get a few lads to sign for lower (money) because they'll still be drunk!" he added jokingly.
English striker Danny North is under contract for next year and hopes the club don't pay the penalty for taking their time. "They should have done their business earlier before boys started talking to other teams," he said.
However, Sligo chairman Dermot Kelly has explained the club's stance towards the current squad.
"We've got to be prudent and temper that with ambition," he said. "We're now talking to a group of League of Ireland champions, which may push the price up a bit. But it's important we learn from the mistakes that some other clubs made and that we move forward with a financial model that works for Sligo, which sees us invest in community and the ground, so the whole club moves on and it's not just centred on the pitch.
"Sligo is an attractive place to play football and I'd be disappointed if the bulk of the squad is not back in place next year."
Meanwhile, Shamrock Rovers director of football Brian Laws will make a decision on his future this week. He has offers in the UK that would appear to rule him out of the running to take the reins in Tallaght on a permanent basis. The Hoops hierarchy are mulling over a shortlist which also includes St Patrick's Athletic assistant boss Trevor Croly and UCD manager Martin Russell.