For a club that has come to pride itself on doing its business far from prying eyes and wagging ears, the sight of Grant Holt’s agent laying out today’s timetable in front of the world will have made for an interesting morning.
The 31-year-old stunned the Canary Nation on Friday when he slapped in a transfer request – all in the same week that he became the first player in City history to win the Barry Butler Memorial Trophy for a third, consecutive season.
His transfer request was immediately refused by the Norfolk club with chief executive David McNally taking to the Twitter airwaves over the weekend to deny there had been any row with the club’s top goal-scorer.
“We have not had an argument or a row with any player, including Grant,” McNally told his 9,000 Twitter followers. “I repeat, no new deal has been discussed with any in contract player, including Grant.”
Sensing something of an impasse between player and club, yesterday The Sunday Sun newspaper in the North-East threw Sunderland’s name into the ring; suggesting that Martin O’Neill might be tempted to prise Holt out of Norfolk for a fee reported to be ‘between £5-£6 million’.
Today and it was the turn of Holt’s agent, Lee Payne, to turn up the heat as he revealed to BBC Radio Norfolk that a meeting between club, agent and player had been scheduled for 4pm this afternoon as all parties sought to resolve their differences.
Payne insisted that Holt had not made his decision lightly; despite his love for both club and fans, he felt he had ‘no other choice’ but to seek a transfer.
“It’s been a difficult few days really,” said Payne, with the whole Holt transfer saga now set to add another intriguing twist to tomorrow night’s Testimonial Match for Adam Drury – particularly if today’s reported meeting fails to resolve matters.
“And it’s not a decision Grant’s made overnight. It’s something that’s been on-going for a little while now,” added Payne. ”It’s a decision he felt he had to make and I’m standing with him 100% on it.”
What has never been wholly explained is who-wanted-what in the midst of Rangers’ abortive effort to sign the Canary star in the final hours of this January’s transfer window.
The Glasgow club were shown the door that night. Given they were just days away from falling into administration, it was a smart decision to keep Holt at Carrow Road – over and above the pure, footballing aspect to it all.
Whether that whole episode still lingers in the memory of player and agent is another question.
“There have been some things that have gone that we felt were not right,” said Payne. “That’s what we’re going to resolve with David McNally.”
At 31-years-old and on the back of those 17 goals this season, Holt is clearly at the peak of his earning powers; he may not get another chance like this to secure his family’s fortunes. He has also proved a fairly formidable leader of men and shrugged off the summer arrival of Steve Morison to prove his starting worth.
Equally, however, from the club’s point of view they have long made clear their intention to keep a lid on their financial out-goings; they are not about to let players’ wages spiral out of control and let the club be haunted by the threat of administration again.
As laudable and as understandable as that stance is, it clearly creates tensions as manager and star player alike seek recognition and reward for their achievements this season. Perhaps Holt simply believes he has not been granted the respect he feels his achievements are due.
Either way, McNally always sensed this could be a long, hot summer; that the action would be just as dramatic off the pitch as it has been on it. He was spot on in that regard as Holt’s agent has his say.
“It’s not about money,” insisted Payne. “It’s not all about money. Obviously money comes into the scenario – it always does.
“Players like to feel like they’re being valued and being respected. There’s a couple of issues Grant’s not happy with and feels they need resolving.”