Leicester chief Richard Cockerill expects George Ford to join Bath Rugby
Leicester Tigers director of rugby Richard Cockerill says he expects fly-half George Ford to move to Bath Rugby at the end of the season.
Earlier this week, Bath head coach Gary Gold denied any agreement between Ford and his club was in place to bring the England under-20 international to The Rec and that no discussions between the two parties had taken place.
Cockerill yesterday, however, said Ford and his representatives had told him he will move to Bath, where his father, Mike, is a first-team coach, when his Tigers contract expires in the summer.
"I have been told by him and his advisors that he is going to go and sign for Bath," said Cockerill.
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"George is very close to his father and he wants to go and play for the team that his father coaches. You can understand that. That's life.
"For me, the advice he has been getting is wrong, but I have no problem with George and he is with us until the end of the season."
Cockerill said Leicester had done everything they could to keep hold of Ford, who has been at the club for four years.
If Ford - named IRB Young Player of the Year in 2011 - does complete a move to The Rec, Bath will have to pay Tigers £45,000 in compensation for taking the services of a player involved in the England under-20s set-up.
"There are all of the protocols around that and they will have to pay compensation," said Cockerill.
"George has been here for four years and we have spent a lot of time and money developing him.
"But he has chosen to leave because he wants to go and play every week.
"From a Leicester end, it's disappointing because you want your best young players to stay.
"We did everything we could contractually to keep him, both financially and with the terms of the deal, even down to the small detail within the contract.
"But he feels he has to play every week and he feels he has been given assurances wherever he goes.
"If players choose to move on because they don't want to stay and fight for their spot, that's cool. I can cope with that.
"Culturally, I am never going to put myself in a corner where a player says 'pick me or I am leaving'.
"It is not as black and white as that but that is virtually where we are at with George.
"He is only 19 but the advice that he is getting from his agent and his father is that he needs to be playing every week. I can't control that and I am not begging anyone to sign for Leicester."