Tranmere will have to pay Chester a painful £22.5k for striker James Alabi following a tribunal hearing yesterday for the former Ipswich Town and Stoke City striker, currently on loan at Dover Athletic.
Alabi joined Rovers in the summer following an impressive season last term in which he scored 17 goals for Chester.
However, despite a five-goal haul in a pre-season friendly against Cammell Laird, he failed to nail down a regular spot in the match day squad at Prenton Park, let alone in the starting line-up.
He is also yet to score a goal for Rovers and was loaned out to Dover earlier in the season, where he has also been in and out of the team.
His loan at the Crabbie Ground is until the end of the season, however, he did briefly leave in January as he looked to be on the verge of joining Ebbsfleet on a permanent deal, a move that would subsequently fall through.
Yesterday’s tribunal will be a relief to cash-strapped Chester who are second bottom of the National League. The club hosted a charity match last night in an attempt to raise funds to keep the club running through until the end of the season.
The ruling that a fee of £22.5k must be paid by Tranmere seems somewhat out of kilter given that the player was with Chester for barely 18 months, and much of his ‘development’ was actually done at Stoke during his early days.
In addition to the fee, Chester will also be entitled to 15% of any future sell-on, which seems over-the-top given the initial fee as well.
Rovers will need to think long and hard over the coming months whether to continue working with Alabi to carve out a future for him at Prenton Park, or off-load him permanently.