St Johnstone explain sales of Jason Kerr and Ali McCann after fans fumed at deadline day departures

St Johnstone chairman Steve Brown has revealed the club decided to sell Ali McCann after the player made it known he wanted to move on.

Ali McCann (left) and Jason Kerr (right), pictured alongside Callum Booth and Chris Kane after St Johnstone's Scottish Cup triumph in May, were both sold on transfer deadline day. Picture: SNS
Ali McCann (left) and Jason Kerr (right), pictured alongside Callum Booth and Chris Kane after St Johnstone's Scottish Cup triumph in May, were both sold on transfer deadline day. Picture: SNS

Fans of the Perth club were furious after a transfer deadline day in which their star midfielder and captain Jason Kerr were sold for combined fees of less than £2 million.

The board was accused of bungling the situation in letting McCann leave for what was perceived to be way beyond his value at £1.2 million, as the youngster still had plenty of time left on his contract and had just starred in Europa League qualifying against Galatasaray. The departure of Jason Kerr to Wigan Athletic, though the defender was in the final year of his deal, added an additional sour taste.

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What particularly stung was Brown’s insistence earlier this year that McCann would not be allowed to for anything less than £1.75 million, the club’s record transfer fee (which they received for current boss Callum Davidson back in 1998).

However, Brown insists the fee will reach their prior valuation of McCann once all additional fees in the transfer have been met.

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In a statement, Brown explained the club were initially resistant to selling McCann and even turned down a bid from Preston North End but acquiesced once the Northern Irish international made his feelings known after a “life changing” wage offer was made through his representatives.

It read in full: “Following on from the closure of the summer transfer window on Tuesday evening, I thought it only right and proper to give our supporters the facts behind the departures of Jason Kerr and Ali McCann.

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“In terms of our captain, Wigan Athletic met our valuation. From a club and, in particular, a financial point of view, it was an offer we could not turn down.

"I thought Jason was going to be the only one that we sold. We turned down numerous bids for several of our key players during July and August.

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“I feel it's vital to explain how this deal came about and how we reached our final decision. Most importantly, we had no intentions to sell Ali in this window.

“I met with the manager at McDiarmid Park from 4pm on Tuesday. At that moment, after reluctantly accepting Jason's decision to leave, two offers came in for Ali, which were both rejected. An increased offer came in from Preston around 5pm, which was also turned down.

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“Shortly after this, it was made abundantly clear to Callum and I that Ali wanted to move on, and from a footballing perspective, challenge himself at a higher level.

“We were also made aware that the financial package which had been offered to him was life-changing and potentially a once in a lifetime opportunity.

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“I sat with the manager and assessed the dilemma we had. Would we stand in the way of a player's development and prohibit him from being set up financially for life? Or do we decline that to have potentially an unhappy player who would no doubt have left in January?

“After a long, difficult conversation between Callum and I, we decided to let Ali go.

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“We subsequently reopened dialogue with Preston and renegotiated to get the overall transfer fee we wanted to achieve.

“With the add ons, it will surpass the value of £1.75million which we put on him back in May. That money will be reinvested back into the football department.

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“I must stress this was never an easy decision, but with regards to Ali, both Callum and I have a clear conscience.”

Brown also made it clear that part of the decision was reached on the basis St Johnstone want to be seen as a club who can develop youngsters and provide them with a platform to move on to a higher level. McCann had an impressive loan spell at Stranraer before returning to McDiarmid Park and establishing himself as a first-team regular for the 2019/20 campaign.

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Brown continued: “We have also kept our policy intact whereby we nurture young players in our fantastic youth academy, send them out on loan and develop them in the first team. That tried and tested process provides them with a platform to kick on in their career.

“It is of paramount importance to us to keep this policy intact as other players watching on can see that we are not a club that will block their development path.

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“I hope this information is insightful and gives you a clear understanding of how decisions are made.”

The chairman finished by asking fans to rally around the new signings who joined the club in the final days before the end of the window as last season’s League Cup and Scottish Cup double winners go in search of their first victory of the new campaign.

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He added: “Like you, I am a St Johnstone supporter, but I often have to remove that from the thought process and take all things into consideration when making vital decisions.

“I now look forward to you welcoming our three new signings – Ali Crawford, Lars Dendoncker and Cammy MacPherson – and giving them your full backing in the weeks and months ahead.

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“We also hope to have Eetu Vertainen's work permit granted by the end of the week and we are sure he will also be an excellent addition to Callum's squad.

“As ever, thank you all for your support and understanding.”

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