It’s the story that Preston fans have long talked about, but now we can be pretty sure; Charlie Adam was supposed to sign for Preston in 2009.

Let’s go back 10 years now. North End had pulled off an absolute miracle under Alan Irvine, sneaking into the play-offs by one goal on the final day of the 2008-09 season.

A last day win over Queens Park Rangers teed up a play-off clash with Sheffield United. Sadly, a 1-1 draw in the first leg was followed up by a 1-0 defeat, with the Blades advancing.

You’d have expected another go at the play-offs, but instead, North End sold captain Paul McKenna to Nottingham Forest. His replacement, famously, was ‘The Macedonian Gerrard’, Velice Sumulikoski.


That move proved to be an absolute disaster, but the long-discussed story is that Sumulikoski wasn’t supposed to be signed – it was meant to be Charlie Adam.

Charlie Adam of Blackpool (Photo by Chris Brunskill/Getty Images)


Adam had impressed on loan at bitter rivals Blackpool, even securing a 1-0 win at Deepdale in April 2009. He then returned to parent club Rangers, with Blackpool seeking a permanent deal for the Scottish midfielder.

It has long been rumoured that Preston were right in the race for his signature, but Irvine chose Sumulikoski instead. Now, McKenna has admitted that a deal for Adam was close, but ultimately fell through.

Speaking to the Under The Cosh podcast, McKenna recalls how he was at the Austrian training camp in 2009, discussing an exit to Forest with Irvine. He also noted that agent Kenny Moyes – Adams’ agent and the brother of ex-Preston boss David Moyes – was in Obertraun at the time attempting to finalise Adam’s move. He even pestered McKenna about joining Forest in order to get Adam to Preston, but it didn’t happen.

“We went to Obertraun, and a couple of days I was in his room and he was telling me what was going on and stuff,” said McKenna. “I remember Kenny Moyes was down wasn’t he. ‘When are you going to Forest?!’…because he was bringing Charlie Adam to Preston wasn’t he, with the money, that’s what he was doing,” he added.

Adam went on to score 16 goals for Blackpool in the 2009-10 season, firing the Tangerines to promotion. After 12 Premier League goals, he earned a huge move to Liverpool, and has been a Stoke regular in recent years.

Conversely, Sumulikoski spent one year with North End, playing just 15 times. Sumulikoski over Adam is often a stick used to beat Irvine with, and McKenna has now confirmed once and for all that the rumours were true.