Rochdale Football Club provide the following statement in response to the posts made by Ian Henderson on social media concerning his departure from the Club.
Firstly, we would like to comment on the amazing contribution which Ian has made to the Club. During his seven-and-a-half years with us, Ian has become a true fans’ favourite, leading us as captain and reaching second on the list of our highest ever goalscorers. The Board would have preferred nothing more than to see Ian reach a ten-year playing career with us, become our highest ever goalscorer and receive a wonderful and deserved testimonial. It is for these reasons that the comments made over the weekend by Ian, and the resulting impact this has had on our fans and the Club, has left us with a huge sense of disappointment.
While the Club would always prefer not to comment on individual player contracts or negotiations, due to the damaging nature of Ian’s comments, we feel compelled to provide the following, which is an accurate representation of events between the Club and Ian over the past season.
We had been in negotiations on a new contract with Ian and his agents from the start of the 2019/20 season. By 19th October 2019, these negotiations had hit an impasse, with Ian’s agents confirming that new opportunities in January and/or the summer would be explored with other Clubs. Contrary to what Ian has claimed, the stand-off as far as the Club was concerned did not relate to ‘minor details’. The contract on offer would have seen Ian continue as the highest paid player in the Club’s history. However, the demands being made over and above this would have resulted in further financial commitments by the Club which the Board felt were unaffordable.
While he remained committed on the pitch up to lockdown, by April 2020 the relationship between the Club and player had deteriorated to the extent that Ian had requested he would only communicate via email.
Ian writes that he was only notified by email of his release. Notwithstanding Ian’s request in April, this was not the case. Brian Barry-Murphy had verbally spoken to Ian at length on 13th June and informed him clearly of the Club’s policy regarding out of contract players and his release.
The Board notes with some sadness that Ian’s social media posts have led to a great deal of anger amongst fans. In some instances, this has resulted in inappropriate comments and threats being posted online and in some cases to Board members personally. While Ian’s disappointment at being released is understandable, the consequences of his actions in response to this goes to underline the importance of accuracy and professionalism in our communications.
Rochdale Football Club trusts that in providing this statement, fans who have felt let down and angered by Ian’s release will appreciate the reality of the situation.