Central Coast Mariners has agreed a fee in the region of $600,000 for the sale of emerging star Tom Rogic to Reading with chairman Peter Turnbull confirming a deal could be completed by the end of the week.
The 20-year-old Australia international – who is out of contract in May - has now only to agree to personal terms with the battling Premier League club to finalise a transfer which could see him on a plane to England within days.
“We have been in discussions with Reading and both clubs are fairly satisfied with what’s on the table and now it’s up to Tom to reach a personal agreement with Reading,” revealed Turnbull.
“I am not going to say what the figure is but there is an agreement there. Of course we don’t want to see him go. I’d like to have Tommy here for another six years because he’s a special player.
“But the reality is that quality Australian players will always want to test themselves overseas where they can command the salaries and exposure they cannot command here.
“You have seen it with the Harry Kewells, Brett Emertons, Lucas Neills, Jason Culinas and so many more over the years.
“We could keep Tom here until May when his contract expires but then he could leave for nothing, and we as a club would be out of pocket. It’s a situation where are hands are really tied.
“The way things are now I would expect that things will be resolved by the end of the week concerning Tom and it may be that he will decide to stay, though considering his past association with Reading perhaps that would be unlikely.”
Reading is so confident it has its man - at the second time of asking - that coach Brian McDermott and director of football Nick Hammond are already planning the arguments they will take to a UK visa panel in support of his gaining a work permit.
Rogic was denied a permit 13 months ago when the Royals first tried to sign him after scouting him from the UK Nike Academy.
But the club is convinced that with Rogic breaking through for the Socceroos – he has five caps – and being a key player for the Mariners, its case has been strengthened.
A source in England said: “Reading are expecting their first application to be denied but these things usually go to appeal and they are confident that is where he will be granted a visa.”
That despite the fact Rogic has not played in the stipulated last 75 per cent of games for his country.
It’s believed that McDermott, whose Reading side is five points off safety in 19th spot in the Premier League, sees Rogic as a possible X-factor whose creativity and unpredictability could add something extra to a side battling to avoid dropping straight back to the Championship after last season’s promotion.
Turnbull, who has seen the likes of Mile Jedinak, Rostyn Griffiths and Matt Simon go to help balance the books, is convinced that even post-Rogic the Premiers’ Plate winner and current A-League leader will continue to thrive.
“We have what I believe is the best youth development system in Australia which has been enhanced through our joint venture with Central Coast Football and also the building of our $10 million academy,” he said.
“And we will continue to produce excellent young players.
“You don’t want to lose players of exceptional quality but our coach Graham Arnold has already identified a couple more players from our Youth League side he wants to sign to professional deals.
“We are top of the A-League and the Youth League at the moment and while Sydney FC may see themselves as the Chelsea of the A-League and Melbourne Victory see themselves as the Manchester United, we are perhaps the West Ham, in that we share that club’s ability to produce and nurture really talented young professionals.”
While the loss of Rogic would undoubtedly be a blow, Central Coast’s long-term survival is tied to such deals as the club seeks to secure its viability.
“We have the strength in depth and character in the squad to keep on being successful because of our youth policy, no matter what happens,” insisted Turnbull.
“You can’t stand in the way of players who want to fulfil their ambitions. That’s the reality of the salary cap.
“It’s like a draughtsman earning $35,000 a year somewhere and then receiving an offer of $350,000 to move elsewhere.”
Western Sydney Wanderers coach Tony Popovic says Central Coast Mariners' nightmare schedule won't be an issue and, if it is, they shouldn't play.