Leiston's pursuit of Aitkens riles Blues
Russell Ward admits Bury Town will not ‘blow their budget’ to try to halt prize asset Noel Aitkens’ move to Leiston, after he was pictured holding their Suffolk rivals’ shirt with boss Glenn Driver.
Bury Town officials were aghast after seeing the Twitter post from the official Leiston account on Wednesday night, purporting to announce the signing of the talented West Suffolk College graduate, following their capture of Bury’s star player Cemal Ramadan.
Aitkens had been on a list of retained players who had agreed to stay at Ram Meadow following one-to-one chats with manager Ben Chenery, which came the week after Bury lost to Leiston in the Suffolk Premier Cup Final at Ipswich’s Portman Road.
With the midfielder being under the age of 24 and Bury having developed him, they would be due compensation, should he decline an offer to stay with them, which would have to be agreed with a club before a transfer could go through.
After @leistonfc tweeted: ‘The Blues have completed the signing of midfielder Noel Aitkens previously with @BuryTownFC’, Bury chairman Ward replied: ‘Errm, think this may be a bit premature, get your cheque book out first’.
He explained to the Free Press that 22-year-old Aitkens had been under contract at Bury last season and a new deal had been put on the table for him which he said, under FA contract rules, he needed to turn down formally in writing before speaking to another club.
Thus, he said Aitkens had not left Bury, as of yesterday, but admitted the club would not get into a wages war to try to retain him.
“It is very strange as I have just had a message from one of their players asking what is going on and why are they announcing it if they have not signed him yet?
“The way they do their business is up to them but we certainly would not be announcing a player we had not formally signed yet.
“I am not saying we will blow our budget to get Noel to stay, if that is what he wants.”
After Bury had a public fall-out with Stowmarket Town last summer, with the latter eventually found guilty of tapping up Bury players before a formal approach was lodged, Ward said this latest episode with Leiston would not sour their relationship.
“At the end of the day it is what it is,” he said. “Managers come and go. I have known their chairman Andy Crisp for a long time and sometimes we have to have strongly worded conversation about things.
“It is not going to cause a bad relationship between the two clubs.
“At the end of the day there was life at Bury Town before Noel and there will be life afterwards.
“It is disappointing as if he moves on he is someone who was a good player for us.”
It comes after Bury made their first signing of the close season with former Walsham-le-Willows and Needham Market dual-registered striker Ryan Gibbs’ arrival announced last Thursday.
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