If the media are to be believed, Reading FC boss Steve Clarke came to within an inch of joining Fulham FC last week. It was news that came out of the blue, worried fans, angered them, and passed by — all in the space of a few days.
GetReading reporter Charles Watts interviewed him the day after he decided to stay at the Madejski Stadium, where the Scotsman said:
"It wasn't about money, it was about professionalism and ambition. I didn't want to be in a situation where I was always thinking what if I'd gone there, spoken to them and they'd come up with something that was mindblowing?
"But that wasn't the case. What I've got here is probably more mindblowing. I'm happy with what I've got here.
"When I sat down and weighed up the best options. This was the best option by a mile."
However, Wayne Veysey, the self-titled 'Football Insider', "former Evening Standard, Press Association and Goal chief correspondent with 17 years experience of breaking big stories", says this isn't the case and it was about the money on offer.
Fulham’s move to appoint Steve Clarke collapsed after he tried to renegotiate lucrative top-up bonuses, Football Insider sources understand.
Clarke had agreed the terms of a contract with Craven Cottage chiefs in midweek before making a U-turn that antagonised the Londoners and left him with no option but to remain at Reading.
A Fulham source told Football Insider: "Steve Clarke had agreed the contract with [Fulham owner] Shahid Khan. It was then passed over to Clarke’s agent Phil Smith who wanted to renegotiate more money.
"The structure of the basic salary was fine. It was additional elements that was the problem, the bonuses. The tweaks [to the contract] were so substantial that Fulham were not willing to consider them. Shahid Khan said, ‘no thanks, we won’t be doing that’."
The collapse in negotiations meant Clarke was forced to return to Reading and pledge his future to the Championship promotion hopefuls after requesting permission to hold talks with Fulham earlier in the week.
That's a fairly dramatic twist on what Clarke has told the press, but at this stage it's unclear who is to be believed.
Clarke has the task of winning back over the fanbase and owners, so is unlikely to come back and natter about how Fulham weren't offering enough dosh. On the other hand, he has been backed to the hilt by the owners and has been with the squad long enough to know what he has at his disposal at Reading. He may well be telling the truth.
Of course the Football Insider story could also be true, especially as Clarke got as far as holding talks with the owners. That in itself suggests he's not 100% convinced by what Reading are offering him, so if the deal broke down because of money rather than what was on offer it might not be too long before Clarke sniffs out another opportunity. Then again, it may all be complete fabricated nonsense.
At the end of the day, it's likely to come down to where you stand on Steve Clarke as both a manager and a man. We'll never know for sure.