|STORY OF THE EASTER DEAL
(Wednesday 1st February 2006 - revised Friday 3rd February 2006)
Jermaine Easter's move to Wycombe Wanderers on transfer deadline day 31st January 2006 ended a protracted and sometimes very publicly touted move from Stockport County.
The 24 year old joined County on a free from Boston United at the start of the 2005/6 season and with 10 goals in 21 games for a side struggling in the bottom division, heads started to turn from other clubs. Wycombe first seemed to raise their interest in Easter at the start of the year after Macclesfield Town striker Jon Parkin was priced out of Wanderers' price range and subsequently moved to 'Championship' side Hull City. It was around this time that Easter, out of contract with County in the summer of 2006, was reported to have put in a transfer request to his financially troubled Club.
Wanderers were reported in the local press on Friday 20th January to have put in an undisclosed bid for Easter. It was later claimed through the Stockport County official website that the bid was £80,000 but it appears now that this bid was turned down. The County official website then reported on Tuesday 24th January that they had received an "acceptable bid" for their striker and given him "permision to talk to the club involved." Wycombe fans hopeful that the 'acceptable' bid had orginated from Adams Park were disappointed when the club in question turned out to be Oxford United who had reported earlier that day, again through their official website, that a bid of £120,000 had been accepted. However, the following day the County website claimed that Easter had "turned down the opportunity to speak to Oxford United after the two clubs had agreed a fee for the Hatters leading scorer."
Next on the scene were Bristol City who were reported through the County official website on Thursday 26th January to have agreed a fee with the 'League One' side and that the player would travel to Ashton Gate to for discussions. But once again the deal fell through with County claiming Easter had "failed to agree personal terms with Bristol City" although the story from the City angle was slightly different. City boss Gary Johnson speaking to the official 'Bristol City World' service on Friday 27th January said ""The boy wanted a little bit more time to think about it. He hadn't trained for a week, which was strange and if you don't show enough enthusiasm to play for Bristol City against Swansea when you are a Cardiff boy then maybe the enthusiasm is not there. So we called it off. I called it off because I wanted that decision to be made this morning and I couldn't give the boy more time to think about it. He's had a bit of time to think about it and really I want people who want to crawl on their hands and knees, as long as the finances are right, who want to play for Bristol City."
By this time, Wycombe, waiting patiently in the wings and without the desire to make every part of the negotiations public, were apparently contacted again by County who were now desperate to sell a player that had been left out of the side by their new Manager Jim Gannon due to the various transfer talks taking place. It's now known that the final steps in Easter's move to Wycombe came on Monday 30th January when he visited Adams Park for contract negotiations with John Gorman. The successful results of these negotiations were then announced officially on the morning of 31st January, with Easter making his Wycombe debut later that evening in the 'League Two' fixture at Northampton Town.
Wanderers' own take on the transfer through the official website came through John Gorman where he said "He wants to be here. I think the fans should really appreciate a lad who has turned down a club like Bristol City because he wants to join Wycombe Wanderers and our fans should be very appreciative of that and help the lad. Don't expect him to be too much too early. he might need to settle down. He might not. But let's not put pressure on the boy." No fee has been revealed by either club but it appears that the original £80,000 is not likely to far off the mark. Gorman commented "It cost a little bit of money but to honest in today's market it's not a lot of money. It's great for a Club like Wycombe to come up with the money because we didn't think we had that kind of money to spend. But the Chairman, Brian Kane and obviously Steve Hayes has done a lot of work. They need to be thanked as well to show the commitment that the Club has got to bring players like Jermaine who in honesty could be playing for Bristol City, which is a big club, down the road, he's from Cardiff. He wouldn't have to move. He could have went there no problem and played in the team last Saturday against Swansea but he choose to come to us. He wants to be with us, it's a wonderful signing and I'm really hopeful that the lad is going to do well."
Meanwhile, Easter will be grateful that the prolonged saga is over and he can get back to playing football again. Commenting on his move he said ""Obviously there was interest from other clubs but having spoke to John (Gorman) I knew it was the club for me." And Easter says he is impressed with the set-up at Wycombe, adding "It seems like a proper football club. I've been to some 'sheds' in the last couple of years, to be fair".
Addendum: Since this article was first published Wycombe confirmed on Friday 3rd January that the fee paid to Stockport County for Jermaine Easter was £80,000. This will be paid in one instalment and there are no sell-on clauses to County. In a statement on the Wanderers official website. Club MD Steve Hayes commented "It took three weeks to do and it involved a lot of phone calls, time and energy. I stated earlier in the year that I wasn't looking to but players and clearly I have gone back on that but I think you can only look at a picture at any given time. I thought it was good value for us. We should be in a position where we can develop Jermaine and if he wants to move on in the future then we shouldn't stand in his way, as with all players. That is really our policy."
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