ROTHERHAM United are in line for a financial windfall if old boy Jerry Yates is involved in a big-money move this summer.
The striker left the Championship Millers last year after failing to establish himself at AESSEAL New York Stadium and has blossomed at League One Blackpool.
Yates has hit more than 20 goals for the promotion-chasing Seasiders who paid Rotherham around £200,000 plus add-ons for his services.
The Millers stand to earn much more than that if Championship clubs come calling for the 24-year-old at the end of this season.
The forward’s value is now at the £2 million mark and Rotherham have a significant sell-on clause that could see them receive somewhere in the region of £400,000 in the event of a sale.
“There was never a question that Jerry couldn’t play or score,” manager Paul Warne said. “In my first season in charge he played quite a bit for me in the Championship.
“But as we signed players who came in ahead of him — like Michael Smith, Kyle Vassell and Freddie Ladapo — his game-time was getting less and less and he was coming to an age where he really wanted to play.
“We want him to do well. We have a sell-on on him and we’ll always follow him. He came through the youth ranks here and is a good advert for this football club.”
Yates’ goal tally for Blackpool is even more impressive considering it took him until his 12th match to open his account.
There is considerable second-tier interest in him, with Bristol City known to be big admirers, although the Seasiders will do all they can to hang on to him, particularly if they reach that division themselves.
The attacker scored only five times in 52 appearances for the Millers and admits he didn’t quite do himself justice at New York before a prolific League Two loan spell with Swindon Town made him a hot property.
“The Swindon move was great for him,” Warne said. “It gave him a right confidence boost. He was coming into the last year of his contract with us and he had no intention of signing a new deal because he just didn’t think he was going to get the game-time, which I completely understand.
“Club and player then had to part company, which is something that happens all the time. We don’t just hold people here and ruin their careers.”
Rotherham have high hopes for another young striker to emerge from their academy set-up, Joshua Kayode, who is expected to challenge for a first-team place next year after spending this term building up his senior experience at Carlisle United.
A second former New York centre-forward, Jonson Clark-Harris, is another man in demand after hitting the net more than 30 times for League One Peterborough United, but the Millers have no financial interest in him.
He was released at the end of his contract in 2018, moving on to Coventry City and then Bristol Rovers before joining Posh last August.
MANAGER Paul Warne is lifting his shattered Rotherham United players for one final challenge: the do-or-die survival showdown at Cardiff City.
The Millers must win in South Wales on last-day Saturday to have any chance of staying in the Championship.
They head to the City of Cardiff Stadium without loan striker George Hirst and centre-half Clark Robertson whose seasons have been declared over because of injuries.
“The lads are absolutely dead on their feet,” said Warne after Tuesday’s 0-0 draw at Luton Town, his team’s 11th match in 33 days.
“We’re screaming at them to get forwards but everyone’s giving everything they’ve got. As manager and leader of this team, I can’t ask a lot more out of them. We just have to have one last push, one last effort.”
Third-bottom Rotherham will remain in the second tier if they take all three points against Cardiff and Derby County fail to beat Sheffield Wednesday at Pride Park.
Victory is imperative for Warne’s men as a draw would see them relegated.
Second-bottom Wednesday could seal their own safety if they triumph against the Rams and the Millers don’t win.
“Whatever people think of me, my staff and my players, it’s ten months of hard slog coming down to 90 minutes,” Warne said of a Covid-hit campaign.
“It is a big test. Cardiff away isn’t one I would pencil in as a favourite fixture. We made five changes against Luton to try to freshen it up and we’ll try to freshen it up as best we can for Saturday.
“It’s well-documented we’ve played so many games. If people aren’t sympathetic to that they don’t understand human biology.”
Leicester City loanee Hirst’s miserable time at AESSEAL New York Stadium has ended with 32 appearances, no goals and a hamstring problem.
Central defender Clark Robertson may have played his last match for the Millers as he is sidelined by an achilles issue and is out of contract in the summer.
Fellow centre-half Angus MacDonald was on the bench at Kenilworth Road because of a calf complaint but is available to start against the Bluebirds.
“We have to go and win,” Warne said. “We can’t control the uncontrollables. It doesn’t matter what happens elsewhere on Saturday, we have to work out a way to beat Cardiff.”
Centre-half Michael Ihiekwe issued a rallying cry of his own, saying: “You can’t go under and feel sorry for yourselves. We pride ourselves on not getting outfought, outbattled or outrun.
“There have been loads of ups and downs this year.
“We’ve had two Covid outbreaks and loads and loads of games at the end.
“It’s a weird season. It could be amazing, it could be heartbreaking.”
THE FA have revealed why they refused to overturn the sending-off of Matt Crooks in Rotherham United’s match with Middlesbrough last month.
The midfielder received a straight red card and a three-game ban for an aerial challenge on Boro defender Grant Hall that resulted in a clash of heads, sparking an immediate appeal from the Millers for wrongful dismissal and clearly excessive punishment.
Rotherham provided video clips and a written statement from chief operating officer Paul Douglas but a three-man FA independent regulatory commission decided the club hadn’t proved that referee Darren Bond had made “a clear and obvious error”.
They also ruled that Crooks’ attempt to win the ball at AESSEAL New York Stadium on April 21 amounted to serious foul play and had put Hall’s safety in jeopardy.
An FA statement said: “The club submitted that their player’s arm was not raised in an unnatural or a dangerous manner and that the clash of heads was purely accidental and not as a result of the recklessness of the challenge.
“This account was not accepted by the commission. The Rotherham player covered a small distance which gave him a run-up of speed and intensity to make the aerial challenge.
“While it is accepted that the player’s arm was in a natural position when heading the ball, the intensity of the challenge and the fact there was a clash of heads without any contact with the ball could clearly be classed as endangering the safety of his opponent.
“While it is accepted there was no malice in making the challenge, the commission understood why the referee had decided to dismiss the Rotherham player. It was a challenge that was high risk if there was no contact with the ball and, therefore, this made the referee’s decision entirely understandable.”
The panel, which met via a video conference call, consisted of former players Udo Onwere, Francis Benali and Mick Kearns.
The Millers also argued that if the red card was allowed to stand then Crooks’ suspension should be reduced.
The FA statement said: “The commission unanimously agreed that the penalty of three matches for the challenge was not clearly excessive. As such, this part of the claim also failed and the three-match ban remained.”
Crooks returned to Rotherham’s Championship survival battle at Luton Town on Tuesday.