Joey Barton has dismissed Lincoln City manager Danny Cowley’s claims of a ‘free’ deal for Cian Bolger and branded claims Fleetwood Town had turned down a £500,000 bid for the defender in the summer as ‘nonsense’.
The 26-year-old, who joined Fleetwood from Southend United in the summer of 2016, would have been out of contract in the summer after turning down a new deal last year.
Bolger was a first-team regular under both Uwe Rosler and John Sheridan, picking up the club’s player of the year award for the play-off season in 2016/17.
However, he fell out of favour after Barton’s arrival last June and left the club having made 121 appearances, scoring 13 goals.
The Gazette understands Town have received a fee for Bolger but claims of a half-million pound offer from an SPL club are untrue.
Instead, it is believed that the only bid Town received for Bolger last summer was a five-figure one from Hibernian with an offer from a Championship club turned down last January.
Barton said: “I’m telling you now, if someone offered £500,000 for him in the summer he would not have been here until now.
“I’m surprised Danny is talking about my business.
“I’m very surprised in terms of how he knows so much and I know so little seemingly.”
On Cowley’s claims of a free transfer Barton added: “He has done fantastically well then because, as far as I know, you do not get any player for free.
“Everybody is paid a wage and, if he has managed to do that, it is an incredible deal; I take my hat off to him. No transfer is a free transfer.
“For me, he (Bolger) had to leave the club in terms of he was running his contract out.
“I did not handle the negotiations; it is not my job, my job is to manage the team.
“My job was to answer the question ‘is he going to play?’
“I don’t know whether they have paid a transfer fee; there might be a thing on there of promotion which I don’t know but I’d be very surprised because our chief executive (Steve Curwood) does not give anything away for free.
“If he has then that is a seismic moment in his career and he should be congratulated because I am constantly talking to him about freeing up money and he is not particularly great at giving anything away without getting value for it.
“You’d have to ask Steve that but I’d be very surprised.
“Big Cian, for whatever reason, they had not sorted a contract out with him.
“There were bids rejected and certain things that had gone on before I took over.
“Sometimes the best thing for a player to resolve something is for both parties to reset and start again.
“He has trained properly, done everything required of him when asked and I just think he needed a clean start.
“We wish him all the best and he goes to a good side in Lincoln, top of the division below, a good chance for him to get himself settled and playing and moving back towards where he was at a couple of years ago.”