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24th Jan 2017

This is what’s holding up Conor Hourihane’s move away from Barnsley

A case of unfortunate timing

Darragh Murphy

Believe it or not, Conor Hourihane remains a Barnsley player.

Last Friday, the writing appeared to be on the wall as reports circulated that the Corkman was set for a medical at Aston Villa while Villa boss Steve Bruce told reporters “we are waiting to hear back from Barnsley today and we hope we can announce something with that today.”

Yet, come Saturday, Hourihane was captaining the Tykes and sumptuously guiding home the deciding free kick before he admitted to Sky Sports that his head had been turned by Villa’s interest.

Sunday came and went as Sundays do and Monday passed with no update.

Here we are on Tuesday and, with Barnsley’s Championship clash with Rotherham drawing ever closer, Hourihane seems to be going nowhere just yet.

Transfer dealings typically take some time but this one seems to be dragging on longer than most and, apparently, there’s a very good reason why Hourihane’s move is taking so damn long.

According to a report in the Plymouth Herald, a recent boardroom reshuffle is what’s postponing the transfer.

Only last week Barnsley’s chief executive left the club which forced negotiations to stall as such a figure is crucial in green-lighting any potential transfer.

“Yesterday, Linton Brown, Chief Executive, left the Club,” a Barnsley statement read. “This is a very critical period of the season for Barnsley Football Club given the dynamics of the transfer window.  The Club has now commenced its search for a replacement. In the meantime, Chairman Maurice Watkins, supported by external advisors, will continue to assist Paul Heckingbottom with recruitment in particular.”

The deal is still expected to get over the line but BBC’s West Midlands reporter Pat Murphy insisted on Tuesday morning that discussions to make Barnsley’s James Bree a Villa player were closer to completion than the Hourihane transfer.

We’re currently in the final week of the January transfer window, which closes next Tuesday at 11pm, and Hourihane is not expected to be representing Barnsley once the window slams shut but one wouldn’t write off seeing him line out for his current side this weekend considering how slowly the wheels are turning in this long-running saga.

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