Carlisle United Football Club can confirm that highly-rated midfielder Liam McCarron has today joined Championship outfit Leeds United for an undisclosed fee.
Appleby-based McCarron, 19 in March, joined United’s academy system at the under-14 level and caught the eye as he went on to earn a two-year scholarship.
At the start of his second year with the under-18 side he was called up to the bench for the Checkatrade Trophy game against Morecambe (September 2018) where he came on to make his senior debut when he played the final 10 minutes of that fixture.
He made his league debut against Tranmere Rovers that same month and signed an 18-month professional contract, with an option, following what had been a very busy period.
A total of 20 first team appearances last season – four of them starts – saw the scouts flock to Brunton Park, with Leeds declaring an interest at a very early stage.
Director of football David Holdsworth said: “This is one of those situations where a big club has identified the potential of one of our young players and has subsequently followed that up.
“There’s nothing much you can do when a club really does start to ramp up their intentions to actually sign the player, whatever age he is, other than let him know that he’s wanted by the club he’s already with and that you see him as part of the future here at Carlisle United.
“We did that to the point where, fairly early in this process, we offered a vastly improved new three-year deal with the option of a fourth year tagged on to keep Liam at Brunton Park.
“Speaking to the young man he made it clear that his intentions were to take up this opportunity and, at that point, negotiations continued between myself, the board and Leeds United to see if we could bring it to a conclusion.
“I have to say that I’ve built up a good working relationship with Leeds throughout this process and it could prove to be a good fit for us going forward should we want to consider any of their players for loan spells with us.”
“Liam is a fantastic young man,” he continued. “I gave him a three-year contract initially, close to the start of last season, because we recognised that he had a really bright future. That was an example of us investing in one of our younger players at an early stage, which is something we have always stated we are more than prepared to do.
“However, this opportunity has come along for Liam and, along with his family and agent, he indicated that he wanted to pursue it. That’s fine, it’s football, so it then comes down to us getting the best deal we possibly can. With that in mind I’ve turned down prior offers and held out for what I and the board feel is an excellent deal for the club.
“I can assure the fans that all negotiations have been conducted with the best interests of Carlisle United at the forefront of our minds. Following long discussions, and having turned down those initial offers, Leeds have now met the valuation we place on the player.
“The player genuinely wants to move, we will not stop the move from happening, but we’ve had to do the work to secure what I and the board feel is a very good deal.
“The understanding thereafter is that any fee received will be invested in the recruitment work we still have to do for this season. On top of that, I’ve made sure that I’ve secured an extremely healthy financial package going forward, which includes a favourable sell-on clause.
“The ideal scenario for us would have been for Liam to stay. That hasn’t been the case, so we’ve done the best we can for Carlisle United and we now wish Liam all the very best as he takes on his new challenge with what is another fantastic club.”
Speaking about the move, McCarron said: “I’ve loved my time with Carlisle United and I’m leaving with a very heavy heart.
“I’d like to thank the club for everything they’ve done for me, and it became an even harder decision to make when a new contract offer was mentioned.
“This opportunity has come up and I just feel it’s one I have to take. Carlisle United will always be in my thoughts because I wouldn’t be where I am now without the help and support I’ve received from the staff, the coaches and the fans.
“I hope the club goes on to get the promotion it deserves. I’ll definitely be celebrating if it does.”