Raith Rovers have moved to address concerns surrounding the transfer of David Bates to Rangers as part of a quadruple deal involving the two clubs.
The club has confirmed that central defender Bates (20), a product of Rovers’ youth development programme since the age of 13, has been transferred to the Ibrox side for an undisclosed fee after spending the first half of the campaign with the Glasgow club on a development loan.
As part of the deal, young winger Scott Roberts (20) has now made a permament move in the opposite direction, signing a short term contract at Raith until the end of the season following the conclusion of his loan.
Rangers midfielder Jordan Thompson (20) will also remain at Stark’s Park until the end of the season after his loan deal was extended, while another highly-rated Ibrox youngster, striker Ryan Hardie (19), joined on loan on New Year’s Day.
Commenting on the deals, which are inter-linked, Raith chief executive Eric Drysdale said: “Rangers have required that the terms of these four agreements remain confidential.
“But the Raith board is happy that through these deals and with the signing of Ryan Stevenson plus the contract extensions for - Ross Matthews, Lewis Vaughan and Mark Stewart - we have already achieved some of our objectives in this transfer window, which were to strengthen the squad by increasing our attacking options while also securing the future contracts of these players, all without breaking the bank.”
Drysdale also reassured fans that Raith did not waive their right to a development fee for Bates, although any money due to the club is likely to have been offset against the acquisition of the three Rangers players. While the exact details of the deal are being kept secret, he also hinted that Raith could be due money in the future should Bates become a success at Ibrox.
He added: “I am aware that there has been some negative initial reaction to what was a premature leak of comment on the Bates deal by a person close to the transaction, and there has been a false perception that the deal was a poor one from a financial perspective. It is not.
“With home crowds not having responded so far to our introduction of the cheapest admission prices in the Championship for the majority of our home games, and with a so far somewhat disappointing level of backing for Craig Easton’s Player Development Fund, we have needed to find alternative ways to balance the books on all these deals.
“This has been done partly through using some of the club’s assessment of the current transfer value of young Batesy, but not his future value if his career progresses.
“On the issue of balancing the books, the board is doing all it can with limited resources.
“Gary Locke is by some distance the most co-operative manager I have dealt with when it comes to making key decisions with the club’s financial stability rather than short term considerations.
“There will be quite a lot more player news in coming days, hopefully, as we continue to build for next season and beyond. All decisions being taken are for the long term benefit of the club and the players concerned, and I am sure the vast majority of supporters will accept this and understand what we are trying to do here.”
Raith travel to Morton this Saturday before welcoming Ian Cathro’s Hearts to Stark’s Park in the Scottish Cup. Hearts have almost sold out their entire 3500 allocation for the fourth round tie, but between ticket sales and premium season ticket holders, Raith have yet to breach the 1000 barrier.
Drysdale said: “With away stands already virtually sold out, I hope that the Raith support will also respond in large numbers to give our players the strongest possible backing for what is a massive challenge.”