Damien Duff has had his say on agents in the League of Ireland.
Shelbourne manager Damien Duff has introduced a contract policy at the club to defend against the low transfer fees caused by release clauses.
Speaking ahead of this Friday’s Dublin Derby against St Patrick’s Athletic, the former Ireland winger said that some agents are “taking the p**s” during negotiations.
In recent times, League of Ireland sides have beaten domestic rivals to players by agreeing to cheap release clauses during discussions with agents.
As one example: midfielder Danny Mandroiu chose to join Shamrock Rovers from Bohemians in 2021, before signing for Lincoln City a year later when his reported €30,000 buy-out clause was activated.
Similar negotiations occur each time a young Irish player comes to the end of their contract at a club. If the club refuse to include a low release clause in the new deal, they risk the player’s agent looking to take them elsewhere.
The trend, which thrives on players’ ambitions to play in the UK and beyond, has been effective for agents as dozens of Irish youngsters have moved to England on the cheap in the last couple of seasons.
Damien Duff outlines policy on agents and transfers.
21-year-old forward Jack Moylan is just one of the Shelbourne youngsters attracting interest from the UK at the moment after a positive start to the season, but Duff is determined to put Shelbourne in the strongest possible position to retain such players.
“Any agents that come in and say ‘I want a get out clause for 30 grand or 40 grand’, no, you can go and do one,” he stated.
Shelbourne's Jack Moylan (AM, 20) has magic in his boots 💥#COYBIG pic.twitter.com/wbMs08evAh
— Kenny's Kids (@KennysKids) May 20, 2022
“I’ve had conversations and it’s just taking the piss so, yeah, getting value for your player but it’s also just agents [saying] ‘oh I’ll make a quick buck, I’ll get them across to any old club in England’. No, I care about my players.
“They’ll go for what they are worth and if a club really wants them, they’ll show how much they want them by paying the money. That’s my policy at the club.
“If the dog and duck from the UK come in for Jack [Moylan] I wouldn’t let him go, or I wouldn’t advise him to go.
“It has to be the right move. We will cross that bridge when we come to it. But if I am a scout I am looking at a lot of players in the squad, no doubt.”
📽️ | Some lovely football from the visitors sees them rewarded with the lead!
Jack Moylan finishes well after being involved in the build-up 👏
Sligo Rovers 0-1 Shelbourne#SLISHE | #LOI pic.twitter.com/Jtf9K2dOtz
— League of Ireland (@LeagueofIreland) May 13, 2023
Duff determined to retain top Shels talents
Comments made by Duff on the subject were part of a longer monologue about the challenges that face the League of Ireland, including money, contracts, agents, transfers and the UK’s perception of it.
And, although he caveated the discussion by stressing that not every negotiation will be met with a “black and white” response, the former Ireland assistant coach was nonetheless emphatic in delivering his opinions on the matter:
“It’s catch 22, calling each other’s bluff. They (agents) might say to me ‘then the player’s not signing’ so I’ll talk to the player then and say ‘I ain’t trying to keep you here forever’. You’re going to get more money, here’s a new contract, but there’s no clause in it.
"A lot of people over in the UK disrespect this league, which is grossly wrong on every level."
Damien Duff on increased TV coverage for the League of Ireland. #SHEPAT | #LOI pic.twitter.com/rC4QlnOuEl
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“That’s the way I work. I normally miss out on signings because I can’t afford to pay them 1,500 quid. Usually when I’ve met players and can give them the 1,500 quid, they come, because they want to come and work in our environment and our standards.
“We offer them an elite service. I’m not trying to make a headline or anything here but this is what I do and as long as I’m here, I’m not going to be hamstrung by agents. I like to think it helps the league.
“I think there’s a real lack of respect for the league by doing it. I’ll fight it all day long.
“I think we’re disrespected in terms of what we offer. It’s ‘ah Ireland, why would you loan players to Ireland?’ That’s the UK club mentality.
“If we do get a player, their sports scientist rings up asking do we have GPS, ‘those things that go on the players’ backs?
“Do they think we’re fucking cavemen over here? That’s the stuff you’re dealing with. They get brilliant coaching here.”
Duff Vs Agents: Fighting for the league.
The 44-year-old finished by underlining his desire to fight for the league now that he is embedded in the fabric of Irish domestic football:
“I don’t think people speak about it,” he said, “‘Here’s Duffer again’, but I’ll fight it. That’s why I fight the agents.
This rivalry has heated up of late! 🔥
Shelbourne v St Patrick's Athletic is live on Virgin Media Two this Friday night! #LOI pic.twitter.com/mAYZ8IuUc7
— Virgin Media Sport (@VMSportIE) May 16, 2023
“I’ll fight anyone verbally. It’s my league now. There’s wonderful men and women in the stands for 70 years, legends of the game, but I’m just a blow-in here 18 months.
“I’ll still fight tooth and nail for this league. I’m not going anywhere anytime soon because I’m going to live in Ireland.
“I’m not just fighting for Shelbourne, it’s the two divisions and below because someone needs to do it. Someone needs to speak up.”
Shelbourne play St Patrick’s Athletic this Friday night (KO 7.45pm) and the game is live on Virgin Media television.
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