Portadown breaking down transfer borders in bid for greater market value
Portadown open the season in familiar fashion tonight but with a squad featuring some unfamiliar faces.
A summer transfer window that included domestic business also provided Ports boss Matthew Tipton with another search beyond the borders in a bid to strengthen his side for a second successive season back in the Premiership.
A Mid-Ulster derby to kick off will add to the rich history between Portadown and Glenavon and match the challenge both old rivals faced on the first night of last season.
And it’s a campaign which will continue the recent trend of Portadown offering opportunities at Irish League level to players from outside the country - with Oran Jackson and Sammie McLeod both arriving from England earlier in the summer and joined this week by South African goalkeeper Jethren Barr.
It is a policy which may have Ports fans turning to the internet for some background information but a calculated gamble which Tipton feels offers greater gains on multiple fronts than the current in-house market.
“It’s certainly not a scattergun approach and we do due diligence in the same way we sign any player,” said Tipton. “I’ve never seen a bad highlights reel on YouTube but access to a system like WyScout gives you the chance to watch full games so you may look at a range of games to see how a player performs in wins and defeats, home and away, up against different systems or styles of player.
“We target specific areas and approach the market in that way.
“No signing is ever a guarantee and that could be someone coming in with years of proven Irish League experience or someone with his first taste of football here in Northern Ireland.
“We look for players with the right level of hunger and desire and there’s clear incentive for a young lad coming over here to do well to improve his chances of pushing on again back across the water.
“Plus players coming in from England have commented on the benefits of the Irish League and how it gives you invaluable senior game experience.
“I’ve had negotiations with Irish League players where the money involved could allow me to sign two players from England for the same figure.
“At present, financially it makes sense and the potential benefits are massive.
“We use our contacts to get plenty of informed insight into a player’s character long before a deal is done, plus obviously there are many conversations with the person too as integration into the squad is vital.
“But if someone signs who only knows a professional environment then, once here, it can only help raise the levels within our squad.”
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