Cork City have confirmed that a deal to sell back the sell-on clauses to Championship side Preston for Ireland internationals Sean Maguire and Alan Browne was needed to help the club stay in top-flight football for the coming season.
Maguire cost Preston an up-front fee of €125,000 when he left Cork City in 2017 and after signing a contract extension a year later, he's tied down to the Lancashire club until June 2021. Browne joined Preston in 2014, without making a first-team appearance for City and he is also contracted to Preston until 2021.
Both players have attracted interest from rival clubs and while no bids are on the table, Preston were keen to secure the sell-on clauses which would have entitled City to a 20% cut from any fee if Maguire was sold.
However due to a financial shortfall, which left City needing to find a substantial six-figure fee, believed to be €350,000, to clear debts and secure a licence from the FAI to play in the new season, the Munster club have done a deal with Preston where the sell-on clauses will revert to Preston, so no windfall if Maguire or Browne are sold on. City informed club members that a deal with Preston "aided the club in securing its Premier Division license for 2020."
Preston, keen to establish a base in an EU country ahead of possible repercussions for player recruitment post-Brexit, may also look to establish a more formal relationship with Cork City.
Cork previously sold the sell-on clause relating to the transfer of Kevin Doyle and Shane Long to Reading, meaning there was no financial benefit to City when both players moved on.
In better news for the Leesiders, they have added Arsenal prospect Joseph Olowu to their squad, on loan, in time for the start of the 2020 season.
City boss Neale Fenn has completely rebuilt his squad for the new season, 12 players leaving Turner's Cross with a number of arrivals, and defender Oluwu is the latest capture, signing a six-month loan deal.
"It’s taken a while to get it over the line; we have just been awaiting international clearance for the last few days, so we are very pleased to have now received that. We are very grateful to Arsenal for their help in getting this deal done. Joseph has been training with us for a while, he’s a centre back, he reads the game really well and obviously from being at Arsenal, he's very good on the ball which is something we like at this club. He's quick and he's strong so he's got all the attributes you could ask for," says Fenn.
Champions Dundalk have also been busy, agreeing a new contract with long-serving midfielder Chris Shields which keeps him at Oriel Park until 2021.
Shields is relishing the chance of a testimonial at Dundalk on the back of his new deal. "Since day one I've been happy to be here and who would have thought I’d be going into 10 years at the club! That’s very rare in the League of Ireland and I take real personal pride in it," he said.
“I've seen so many players come and go over the past decade so to be a constant is nice and it's great knowing that I can just concentrate on my football now for the next two years."
From earning what he has admitted was "stupid money" at a Premier League club to playing non-league football in his native Dublin at weekends and working on building sites by day, Robbie McCourt has seen a few sides to life.
League of Ireland
A 'yes' to Shamrock Rovers II and no place for Limerick FC was, as expected, the outcome of the FAI's club licencing process, as clubs can finally plan for the 2020 season with certainty.