BY ALAN TEMPLE in Dublin – Capital City Press
Falkirk boss Peter Houston admits Botti Biabi could leave the club this summer after confirming that Swansea City have declared their interest in the Bairns starlet.
The Swans, who have raided the Falkirk Stadium for Jay Fulton and Stephen Kingsley in the past, have been linked with a £150,000 swoop for the 19-year-old.
The Ladbrokes Championship outfit are keen to ensure any agreement also includes handsome sell-on benefits and performance-related bonuses.
However, Houston – while adamant Falkirk are under no pressure to sell their prize assets – concedes the asking price for Biabi is likely to be “chicken feed” for the Barclay’s Premier League side.
He continued: “There is an interest from Swansea there and, if they really want him, they will get him. That’s the reality.
“The money we would be asking from them would be chicken feed for a club in the Premier League. It would be a case of getting something which looks after us in terms of add-ons and things, to make it a good fee.
“Only Swansea can really say whether something will materialise but they have certainly made us aware of their interest in Botti.”
London-born Biabi made 31 appearances for the Bairns last season, largely from the bench, but scored four goals and turned in an eye-catching cameo in the Scottish Cup final defeat against Inverness.
The striker is not part of Falkirk’s Irish training camp. Biabi’s absence has been put down to a slight injury, however Houston confirmed that the player is acutely aware of the interest in him.
He continued: “Botti knows about the situation with Swansea – I have told him.
“We don’t need to sell, the board have made that clear. But if Swansea make a move for Botti Biabi and Falkirk Football Club are happy with the terms, then I would never, ever hold a young player back form a move like that.
“If someone’s ambition is only to ever play for Falkirk, then they are no use to me. Everybody should be looking to get to the highest level they possibly can and play there for as long as possible.”
Meanwhile, Bob McHugh did his hopes of a permanent deal with Falkirk no harm as his superb cameo inspired a 4-0 win over Athlone Town last night.
The 23-year-old, who is on trial with the Bairns, entered the fray as a half-time substitute and immediately claimed an assist for Scott Shepherd.
With roles reversed, Shepherd then found McHugh in the box for him to slam home, before the former Motherwell youngster spun in the box to rifle home his second of the evening.
The second-half blitz added to Blair Alston’s opener after just two minutes as Houston’s men cruised to victory in Ireland.