IRISH LEAGUE: Joe Gormley set to make return to Cliftonville

Joe Gormley is poised to return to his former club, Cliftonville
Joe Gormley is poised to return to his former club, Cliftonville

Joe Gormley has signed a pre-contract agreement to return to Cliftonville on a three-year deal, subject to successfully completing a medical the Irish League confirmed last night.

The striker has been unattached since quitting professional football with Peterborough in November.

The 27-year-old will train with Cliftonville for the rest of the season but cannot play for the Reds until the beginning of the next campaign.

Gormley had also been linked with Cliftonville’s Belfast rivals Crusaders and Linfield but has opted to return to the club for whom he scored 122 goals in 183 appearances during an initial four-year spell at Solitude.

Peterborough director of football Barry Fry in November said Peterborough, St Johnstone and Gormley had all written letters to Fifa for asking for special dispensation to cancel his contract by mutual consent outside the January window.

The striker’s goals helped Cliftonville to successive Premiership titles in 2013 and 2014 and he was also named the Northern Ireland Football Writers’ Association Player of the Year for the 2013/14 season before moving to Peterborough in the summer of 2015.

“His is the signature that everyone’s been fighting for and confirmation that he’s coming back to Cliftonville is exactly what everybody associated with the club - fans, staff and players, have been dreaming about,” said Reds manager Gerard Lyttle in the club statement.

“What he achieved during his last spell here has earned him legendary status but he’s never been happy to just sit back and rest on that.

“He always wants more, he’s always been hungry to live up to his reputation and prove time and again why our fans called him ‘Joe The Goal’.

“As the manager, I’m over the moon to add a player of Joe’s calibre to the squad and, though we’ll have to wait a few months until he’s eligible to play, this will still give everyone at Cliftonville a huge boost.”