MATTHEW Tipton has revealed how he never wanted to leave Portadown – but the absence of an offer by the club forced him to seek alternatives.
Tipton agreed a two-year deal to join Linfield on Tuesday night following months of frustration and uncertainty over his Shamrock Park future.
The striker’s final act in a Portadown shirt was to secure the club European football with a match-winning hat-trick on Saturday against Cliftonville. Now the Ports must prepare for that summer adventure without the club’s leading goalscorer.
Portadown directors recently confirmed in a ‘Times Sport’ exclusive how one-third must be cut off the current wage budget to meet Irish Football Association guidelines.
“I appreciate how Portadown are facing hard times financially due to the wage cap and maybe that had something to do with the situation,” said Tipton. “However, I was never presented with an official offer by the club, even on Wednesday when I confirmed that Linfield had put a deal on the table.
“I had been told it was club policy to deal with contracts at the end of the season but still no contact was made to formally discuss my future at Portadown.
“I moved my family over to Northern Ireland from England and only have a little time left on my current contract so needed to sort it out sooner rather than later.
“It was a tough decision and a massive one but, for my part, I feel I have been pushing the club over the past few months, without success.
“They told me they wanted to wait and that was not a problem but then it got to that point and there was still nothing.
“I was prepared to discuss a wage cut and accepted that was the reality of the club’s situation but never had the chance to talk over any terms or conditions.
“At every point I kept Portadown informed of my situation when letters came in from other clubs but an offer was only ever discussed informally at one point.
“I just wanted an opportunity to discuss my future and would never have held the club to ransom over money.”
The security of a two-year contract proved crucial in Tipton’s decision to swap red for Belfast blue.
“Football is my job and I have a family to support so needed to make a decision,” said the 31-year-old forward. “I am aware of interest from a host of Irish League clubs, teams in the Republic of Ireland and even offers back in England.
“Given my circumstances, I needed to sort something out quickly and the two-year offer provides crucial stability.
“I understand it is Portadown’s policy to only offer one-year deals to players over 30 years old but would have loved the chance to discuss that with the club and put my case forward.
“There was never any alternative presented, even once I confirmed the Linfield offer but I will leave behind lots of friends at Portadown and thank Ronnie McFall for actually bringing me to the Irish League in the first place.
“Like any player, I want the chance to win medals and a look at the league table would confirm Linfield as the only team in Irish League football in a better position than Portadown.
“I loved my time at Portadown but must now look to the future as a professional footballer and move on having made a decision in the best interests of my family.”
PORTADOWN have moved towards helping fill the goalscoring gap by securing Darren Murray from Donegal Celtic on a pre-contract agreement.
“I wish Matthew no ill-feeling on my part but we just cannot compete with Linfield,” said Ronnie McFall, the Ports boss. “Darren is not a direct replacement for Matthew but a tall striker who is raw, young and quick with a good scoring record
“We have had conversations with players over contracts and will continue talks to hopefully keep those we want to keep.
“It is a young squad, with everyone looking forward to European football during July.
“That second spot in the Carling Premiership table, plus Europa League football, is worth quite a bit of cash to the club and also acts as a massive lift for everyone.”