Cork City could be in a line for a welcome windfall if negotiations with Preston North End about a partnership reach a successful conclusion.
It is understood that high-ranking officials from the English Championship club flew into Cork yesterday with a view to strengthening their ties to the Rebel County.
Over the past six years, Preston has agreed deals with City to recruit Alan Browne, Seán Maguire, and Kevin O’Connor. The Lancashire club also raided Dundalk to sign Daryl Horgan and Andy Boyle.
Back on Leeside, Preston have also put in place a formal alliance with Ringmahon Rangers, the former schoolboy club of Ireland midfielder Browne.
The club’s billionaire owner Trevor Hemmings, who also owns the Trabolgan holiday resort, has his son Craig, the club’s chairman, and advisor Peter Ridsdale overseeing all football operations.
Ridsdale is a former chairman of Leeds United and has served chairmanships at Barnsley and Cardiff City before acting as the eyes and ears of Hemmings for the past eight years.
The 67-year-old has accompanied Preston manager Alex Neil to League of Ireland matches, fully aware of the value in the market.
Browne moved to Deepdale as a teen in January 2014 and has become an integral part of Neil’s side.
Maguire’s switch came midway through Cork’s double-winning 2017 season when he was the league’s top scorer.
Although the combined fees were relatively low at around €250,000, each deal contained a sell-on clause entitling City to a cut from any future transfer.
It remains to be seen whether the duo’s future forms part of the current talks with City.
Both players have been linked with big-money transfers and, with each entering the last season of their contract, Preston may choose to cash in during the summer.
Rather than keeping a cut for City, negotiations could be aimed at guaranteeing a sum upfront.
The League of Ireland club previously agreed to similar arrangements with Reading following the transfers of Kevin Doyle and Shane Long.
Last season proved a challenge for City with the threat of a relegation play-off looming until the third last game of the campaign. Reduced gate revenue and the absence of European qualification prize-money for the first time in five years culled manager Neale Fenn’s budget for his opening full season at the helm.
City get the new season underway on Friday at Turner’s Cross by hosting newly-promoted Shelbourne.