Billy Sharp may not be joining the Reds but don’t be surprised to see other high-profile arrivals at Stanley this summer.
Sharp raised a few eyebrows on Bank Holiday Monday when the Southampton striker tweeted that he’d agreed to join Stanley on a season-long loan deal.
Accompanied by a picture of himself with Reds boss James Beattie and their agent, James Featherstone, some felt that gave Sharp’s tweet enough credibility to be genuine.
The background told a different story, however, as they’re sitting in a casino. Beattie had gone on a family holiday to Florida but met up in Las Vegas with Sharp, with whom he became friends while team-mates at Sheffield United.
Even so, if the deal were to become reality, there would be the small matter of Sharp’s wages to take care of, reported to be £20,000-a-week.
That’s something the two clubs would have to reach an agreement on – not Beattie, Sharp and their agent – and there was no contact between Southampton and Stanley, who are close to agreeing terms with striker Will Hatfield over a new deal.
Parent clubs often agree to cover some of their players’ wages while they’re on loan and although Sharp spent last season with Championship side Nottingham Forest, they’re able to pay a far greater portion than Stanley.
“Whether Billy Sharp starts playing for Southampton straight away (next season) remains to be seen and if he doesn’t then he’ll need some games,” said the Reds’ managing director Rob Heys.
“We are looking to play the loan market and we’d love for James to pull in a few favours but that’d be some acquisition.
“You’d be silly not to ask the question but I’d imagine Southampton would want more of a contribution towards his wages than we could afford.”
So, Sharp’s tweet proved to be a joke and bringing in someone who’s currently under contract with a Premier League club is beyond Stanley’s means.
However, Heys believes Beattie is capable of luring other players to the Store First Stadium this summer that will make people sit up and take notice.
“You wouldn’t want to limit the thinking really,” he said. “If someone had said midway through last season, particularly in the position we were in, that we’d be able to bring in Franny Jeffers and James Beattie I think people might have said ‘you need you head looking at’.
“With James, it’s not the name, that’s not the big reason for having him as a manager. But I think it does help to attract players who might normally have been a bit wary of coming to Accrington Stanley.
“If they see we’ve got players like James and Franny last season, and they’re enjoying their football, that can only help to attract people.”
Jeffers and midfielder Amine Linganzi have been offered new contracts, along with Rommy Boco and Lee Molyneux.
Boco has also had talks with Chesterfield while Molyneux has been linked with the Spireites and Fleetwood.
Hatfield was expected to sign an extension by the end of the week, though, which would make it 12 players signed on for next season.
The 21-year-old, who had a loan spell with Stanley before joining permanently from FC Halifax in February 2012, scored six goals in 24 starts last term.
However, Craig Lindfield turned down his offer in order to sign for Chester FC on Wednesday.
The 24-year-old joined Stanley from Macclesfield in 2010 and scored five goals in 49 league starts.
Chester hope to challenge for promotion into the Football League next term after running away with the Blue Square North title.
“Craig had been offered a new contract at Accrington but he wants to get the fire back in his belly a little bit, to get back to playing up front,” said Chester boss Neil Young.
Fellow striker, James Gray, who signed a new one-year deal last week, was named in Northern Ireland’s Under-21 squad for their European Championship qualifier in Cyprus yesterday.