Wales midfielder Joe Ledley has been with Cardiff City since the age of nine
Cardiff City manager Dave Jones admits that losing Joe Ledley to a foreign club is his "worst-case scenario."
The Wales international, who is out of contract this summer, has been heavily linked with Scottish giants Celtic.
And the Championship club would get no compensation if Ledley moves abroad on a free transfer.
"If he moves to a club abroad we can't fight for compensation, "said Jones. "It would be the worst-case scenario as Joe has been here since he was nine."
Players can leave clubs for no fee once their contract expires.
But, if an English league footballer that has been at a club before the age of 23 moves to another domestic club, the old club can seek compensation from a Football Association tribunal for developing him.
If that home-grown player moves abroad before his 23rd birthday, the development club can seek minimal compensation. But, if he moves abroad after his 23rd birthday, then the developing club cannot claim a penny.
Ledley celebrates his 23rd birthday on 23 January so clubs from Scotland, or any other foreign country for that matter, could sign him for no fee and no compensation in the summer.
If he doesn't stay here, let us hope Joe goes to a club in this country then we can fight our compensation
Cardiff City boss Dave Jones
The 32-times capped Welsh midfielder is supposedly being tracked by Premier League clubs such as Everton, Wolverhampton Wanderers and Stoke City.
Stoke boss Tony Pulis even had a £6m Ledley bid rejected by Cardiff on the final day of the 2008 summer transfer window - and now the Bluebirds fear losing their prize asset for absolutely nothing.
Ledley would be attracted to Celtic by the prospect of starring in the Champions League and playing regularly in front of 60,000 fans.
He could now sign a pre-contract agreement with a foreign club like Celtic as he is the final months of his current deal.
"We won't get anything if Joe moves abroad in the summer, it's as simple as that," Jones told BBC Sport.
"That would be a shame because we've spent a lot of time developing him and a lot of money has been invested in him.
"But I don't know why the compensation rule should apply in this country and not if he goes anywhere else.
"If he moves to a club in this country we will fight compensation - and rightly so.
"If he doesn't stay here, let us hope Joe goes to a club in this county then we can fight our compensation."
Ledley and his home-town club Cardiff have been in contract deadlock for four months and he has rejected two new deals.
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