PORTADOWN are currently in negotiations with Richard Clarke over the veteran midfielder’s future in a dual player/coach role.
Discussions have been held between club and player with a view to extending his Shamrock Park stay and allowing the next generation of talent to benefit from Clarke’s experience and professionalism.
“We have had talks so it is a case of working out the exact details,” said Portadown manager, Ronnie McFall. “Richard has his UEFA B Licence so is qualified to join the coaching team, plus can call on the experiences of 17 years as a Portadown player.
“People like Richard and Keith O’Hara remain loyal clubmen and it is important to keep those guys around when possible.”
Clarke’s situation, although expected to be finalised in the near future, remains the only unresolved scenario relating to the seven players coming out of contract this summer.
The Ports sealed fresh deals tonight (Thursday) with Brian Gartland (one year), Garry Breen (two years), Ross Redman (two years) and Neil McCafferty (two years) during the final club meeting before the summer break.
Wesley Boyle is now a free agent following the club’s decision not to offer the hometown playmaker an extension on his second spell with Portadown.
Conor McCloskey has also been released.
“We had been in talks but wanted to wait until the end of the season before finalising anything,” said McFall. “It was important not to have any distractions from our target of European football.
“We are looking to the present and future with these deals as it is a young squad with plenty of potential.
“It was important to maintain the continuity as I feel Ross is the best full-back in Irish League football, Brian and Garry have been outstanding in defence and Neil is coming off the back of a wonderful season.
“The players each accepted a wage cut and now we fall within the Irish Football Association’s salary cap.
“We wanted to put everything to bed before the summer break and did offer Matthew Tipton a one-year deal on reduced terms but could not compete financially with Linfield.
“However, I fully appreciate Matthew has to look after himself and his family.
“I would also like to wish Wesley Boyle every success in the future and thank him for his service to the club.
“It can be difficult as a local lad but Wesley remains one of the top Irish League players, it is just we felt the time was right to move on.
“Now we can look to the future and map out our preparations for July’s Europa League ties.”