Ex-Sunderland and Rangers striker linked with surprise Championship move after public contract row
Former Sunderland striker Kyle Lafferty could be set for a surprise move to the Championship – after a public contract row with Kilmarnock.
The Northern Irish international spent the second half of the 2019/20 season with the Black Cats, only to see his time at the club cut short due to the curtailment of the League One season.
After a brief spell in Italy, Lafferty joined Kilmarnock and made an instant impact – scoring 13 times in 13 games in all competitions.
And while that record wasn’t enough to save Killie from dropping out of the Scottish top flight, it certainly earned the 33-year-old some admirers.
Indeed, recent reports have suggested that Championship sides Derby County, West Brom, Cardiff City and Birmingham City are all keen on Lafferty.
The striker is currently a free agent after seeing his terms at Rugby Park expire – but the situation has been shrouded in controversy.
Lafferty claimed that he had only learned he would be leaving the club after reading an article on their official website, having been interested in negotiating fresh terms.
He said: “I was with the Northern Ireland squad in Ukraine when I read that I’d decided to move on from Kilmarnock.
”It was extremely disappointing. It just isn’t true that I’ve walked away, the opposite is true. I loved the time I had there and wanted to stay.
“My aim was to be a part of the bid to bounce straight back to the Premiership next season, but the club have announced that won’t be happening.
”The club spoke to my agent, he told them what I was looking for and I wasn’t asking for the earth or to give the boss Tommy Wright a heart attack.
“Contract talks are all about negotiation, but there was none of that. We heard nothing, just an announcement on the official club website that I and several other players had decided to move on.
“It’s a disingenuous statement. The fans deserve to know what the situation is as it’s not right to have players thrown under the bus because of the relegation.
“My aim is stay at Killie and help the club come straight back from the Championship next season, but the club have now said I’ve moved on.
“I’d like the Killie fans to know it’s not the case that I have rejected the chance to stay at the club. The truth is I wanted to be part of the plans for next season.”
Kilmarnock, however, claimed that the two parties were ‘miles apart’ during negotiations.
In a statement, they said: “Following the conclusion of the play off against Dundee, we entered into negotiations with players we wished to retain for the 2021/22 season which included Kyle.
“We received a series of figures from his representatives which were four times higher than the sum he received towards the end of the 2020/21 campaign.
“At this point, we informed Kyle and his representatives that there was no possibility of agreeing to those terms, which would have had a monumental impact on the allocated first team budget for the season.
“Following further discussions and both parties remaining miles apart, it was clear that no deal could be struck and in order to continue our planning for 2021/22, talks were brought to a close.”