Gazette Claim Gilks Exit Imminent
In his weekly web chat this afternoon, Gazette reporter Steve Canavan revealed what we perhaps all suspected: that goalkeeper Matt Gilks will not be signing a new contract with Blackpool and will be sold by the club in the January transfer window to avoid him leaving on a free transfer in the summer when his contract expires.
The player has been offered a new deal by the club, but the offer has been rejected as being 'derisory'. Indeed, it is our understanding that Gilks is currently paid less than £1,000 a week and that BFC's offer of a new deal would have still seen him on less than £3,000 a week.
Although he received a promotion bonus of over £200,000 over the summer, it's clear that money is on the keeper's mind; he is allegedly furious that his pay packet was not increased as soon as the Seasiders won promotion to match his team mates.
'Pool manager Ian Holloway is on record as saying that he has asked the player to write on a piece of paper how much money he wants, but that Gilks is refusing to even discuss terms; perhaps not surprising given a) the club's pathetic offer to him and b) the amount of time it took them to actually put an offer on the table.
Had the Seasiders actually entered negotiations with the player (and made him a decent offer!) over the summer then we might not be in this situation.
Then again, last summer, Gilks nearly gave up on the game to become a mechanic having grown frustrated at his lack of first team opportunities.
However, the arrival of Ian Holloway as manager led to a change of fortunes for the keeper and he is now one of the best performing shot stoppers in the Premier League and a member of the Scottish national squad; a far cry from being a mechanic I'm sure you'll agree!
It would seem that loyalty and gratitude to the manager that has effectively saved his career along with the desire to play first team football are not on the agenda for Matt though with reports growing that he is prepared to accept a massive pay rise to join the likes of Manchester City or Arsenal (who have both shown interest in him) just to warm the bench.
Whilst such a move would undoubtedly set him up for life, it is a shame that the £ signs appear to mean more to him than playing week in week out in the Premier League and establishing himself on the international scene.
Hopefully the club can still sort something out with the player as he has certainly stepped up to the mark this season and brings something different to our team and dressing room, and perhaps the fact that he's still starting for us is an indication that Ollie is hopeful that a deal can be sorted out.
However, as it stands, 'Pool will be forced to sell their first choice goalkeeper for whatever money they can get in the New Year (which begs the questions what is he worth and how much should we hold out for?) and then swiftly look for his replacement; not a situation you want to be in halfway through your debut Premier League season!
Of course his replacement could be right under our noses; Paul Rachubka was initially Ollie's number one, has never really let us down and will desperate to re-establish himself, especially in the Premier League, although large question marks hang over his ability to deal with crosses and command his area. Rabs is set to be fit again in the New Year and obviously knows the club inside out, although will be very short on match fitness.
There's also Richard Kingson, although he was only signed as cover for Gilks after Rabs' injury (which is reflected in the fact that he only signed a one year deal). He has never excelled at club level to say the least, but had a great World Cup. Then again, so did El Hadji Diouf once...
Young keeper Mark Halstead would be a real outside bet, but another young keeper who could well find himself thrust into the Premier League limelight is Huddersfield's Alex Smithies. It is our understanding that the Seasiders are tracking the promising young shot stopper and have him as a principle target should Gilks indeed leave.
Smithies obviously fits Ollie's plan of signing young players and 'polishing them up', although obviously he only has experience at League One level. Then again, Matt Phillips had only played in League Two before this season!
Whether Gilks stays or goes, let's hope that valuable lessons have been learned about our pay structure and the way that we deal with contracts else we risk seeing our team decimated, and as Ollie has said, it's hard enough bringing players into the club to strengthen the side, never mind signing players to replace those who have done such a great job but have left on a free/for a few hundred thousand!