Smurthwaite confident that O’Connor will stay

Chairman Norman Smurthwaite has told BBC Radio Stoke that Michael O’Connor is “happy with the package” and “no other club has made an offer” for the player of the year.

Smurthwaite added that “Nothing is guaranteed” but “it isn’t about the money for Michael O’Connor” but only the length of his journey from Lincoln would be an issue.

I don’t want Tom to go but the club is bigger than one man

Meanwhile, Smurthwaite says he doesn’t know if Tom Pope will sign a new deal but that it is “not an issue of lack of respect.”

The club is bigger than one man. Tom is a great lad and I want to keep him I can only work with what I’ve got

Smurthwaite told BBC Radio Stoke: “I don’t want Tom to go if Tom decides to stay – great.

“I’m bothered if Tom Pope leaves but as a business we cannot afford the contract he was on.

“It’s not an issue of lack of respect but it’s just the fortunes of the club financially where we are.”

He added that he needs to be “balancing the whole squad’s needs against one man. The club is bigger than one man. Tom is a great lad and I want to keep him I can only work with what I’ve got .”

Smuthwaite said he”really didn’t know” if Pope would sign and has not heard from the player. But he did confirm that if an agreement was reached, Pope would remain the club’s highest paid player.

Ground closures not ruled out

Smurthwaite also refused to rule out closing parts of the stadium again.

The decision to close the Railway Stand for the game against Crawley caused controversy and Smurthwaite told one caller that at the time “it didn’t work” but “I can’t guarantee that won’t happen again.”

No permanent move for Inniss

Smurthwaite said that he was “closer than the Tom Pope deal” with a move to bring Ryan Inniss back to Vale Park but any move would be a loan move. He added that the compensation to sign Inniss permanently was £600,000 a figure clearly beyond the club’s finances but a loan deal would “suit all parties.”

Marshall offered ‘exceptional’ deal

Smurthwaite said that winger Mark Marshall was a “great player” and had been given an “exceptionally good contract” and “if that’s enough, I don’t know but unfortunately that one is in the hands of his agent.”


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