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Aviva Premiership
Bath leave door open for Barkley
ESPN Staff
September 21, 2012
Bath's Olly Barkley attempts a penalty, Bath v London Wasps, Aviva Premiership, The Rec, Bath, England, September 8, 2012
Bath playmaker Olly Barkley will join big-spending Top 14 side Racing Metro next month © PA Photos
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Players/Officials: Olly Barkley
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Teams: Bath Rugby | England

Bath chief executive Nick Blofeld insists the door will always be open for departing fly-half Olly Barkley.

The 30-year-old Barkley will move to Top 14 giants Racing Metro next month after a surprise big money transfer was agreed between Bath owner Bruce Craig and Racing president Jacky Lorenzetti.

The deal was done in a matter of days after injury-dogged Racing made an initial inquiry and Blofeld has admitted Barkley's decision to end an 11-year association with the club did surprise him but he would have no qualms about re-signing the former England international.

"It was quite a bolt out of the blue," Blofeld told BBC Radio Bristol. "We only became aware of it a few days ago. We're very sad to see him go but we weren't going to stand in his way.

"He's Bath through and through and he loved it here," he continued. "He still loves it here and he's quite emotional about making the change. It will be a wrench for him to leave but I'm sure he'll settle in quickly and he'll be welcome back any time."

Barkley will join his new Paris-based club as a 'medical joker' after they lost the services of both Jonathan Wisniewski and Benjamin Dambielle while fellow playmaker Juan Martin Hernandez is currently on international duty with Argentina.

"A series of unfortunate events at Racing have opened up that opportunity and he's very keen to take it," continued Blofeld. "They have lost three fly-halves and they're looking for a kicking fly-half. They thought they could lure him over there and they have."

Barkley himself took to Twitter last night to explain his decision. "An emotional day but one I feel I want to talk about to everyone that knows me, knows Bath rugby and has supported me along the way," he wrote.

"It's without doubt been the hardest decision of my life to leave the club I love at this time of the season and when things are so positive with the new set up, coaches, culture and people. The opportunity offered to me is one that I didn't think would come around again and I'm not getting any younger.

"I have always made rugby decisions at contract time and at this point in my life I need to make a life decision. I feel like I've had to try and process 12 years of memories and emotions at a place that I will always call my home and hold so dearly in my heart.

"With Tommy Heathcote, Steve [Donald], and Ollie Devoto the club has more than enough quality to carry Bath to what I dearly hope will b some trophies at the end of the year and with Gary [Gold] & the new set up there's every chance of this happening now I feel.

"Thank you to everyone Bath for a making the last decade one that I will forever see as one that has shaped my life, friendships and memories.

"To the supporters, I couldn't have asked for a better bunch. To stand tall through thick and thin, I hope for a happy bus journey back from Twickenham on May 29th, as it's no less than you all deserve.

"I leave with a heavy heart to take on what will be a big challenge but one that I am going to try and grab with both hands.

"A special place, a special club with special people that will forever have a special place in my heart. I will miss you all #allezbath xxx"

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
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