After their fiercest rivals were able to take star youngster Tevan Allen for free, Bury Town chairman Russell Ward has defended the club’s decision to not put him on a contract.
The Ipswich-based 20-year-old had been the Blues’ best recent exponent of their flourishing youth system, having come through the ranks under the guidance of manager Ben Chenery’s West Suffolk College football programme.
But after Ward admitted he was able to leave for free when higher-league historic rivals AFC Sudbury came calling — a transfer we exclusively revealed on our website on Saturday night — the chairman believes the non-contract arrangement was the right way to go.
He said: “I do not know what he would have commanded on the open market but it would not have been life changing for this football club or earth shattering.
“You see young players in that sort of position go for perhaps a few hundred quid.
“We would have easily paid more than that on his wages if he had of been on a contract and got injured.
“When we were making that decision he was injured and suspended. It is a balancing act.”
He added: “It is different to a fellow who can score 20 goals a season. He will have a bit of a price tag on his head as a result.”
Ward revealed right-back Allen’s exit was harder to take given he had originally decided to turn the deal down to stay at Bury, but felt a better financial package did serve to sway him.
“It is disappointing to see him go but at the end of the day, money talks,” he said.
“If someone comes in and offers a young lad silly money they are going to take it.
“They get their heads turned as a result of what people are getting in the pro game.
“We’re disappointed as Tev announced to Ben on Thursday night that he was staying and by the time he came in Saturday he was leaving.”
But Allen, who made his debut for his new club on Tuesday, rejected money being a big reason for his Ram Meadow exit.
“That is definitely not the case in this (situation),” he said.
“To me, money is not a motivation, my performance and how I develop myself is my motivation.
“Obviously Bury was a massive stepping stone for me and they have done nothing wrong to me in the four years I have been there and it was a great club to be at. But it was definitely nothing to do with money.
“If that was the motivation I think in myself I would be lost as a footballer.
“Lots of footballers do, like he says, have their heads turned by money, but not me.”
The exit had preceded the good news ex-Needham Market winger Regan Pelling has been signed on a month’s loan from higher-league Leiston.
Despite being 10 points and six places off the Ryman League Division One North play-off places with 13 games to play, Allen believes Bury can still achieve their goal, and will be willing them to do it.
“All it takes is a run of games to turn it around,” he said.
“I know it seems like a big blip at the moment, but I still think Bury have got the fight and the will to get in the play-offs.”
Meanwhile, Ward believes in fellow full-back Ryan Yallop, who deputised for Allen in Saturday’s 2-1 home defeat to Phoenix Sports, the Blues have a player who could turn out to be even better than their recent departee.
“If we don’t bring anyone in he has the opportunity to stake a claim for his place (now),” he said.
“He could be the next Tev Allen. In terms of his pedigree it has been just as good, or better. He is as good as Tev was.”
He added: “Ryan is still young. He was thrust into the spotlight with Suffolk Under-18s when they were doing so well with their cup run (to the semi-finals of national cup last season).
“But when you play Ryman League and there are players from London, it is not as easy, but he has done well.”
Ward also hopes the Allen transfer can help maintain a flow of promising young players coming in the other direction, similar to Kryan Clements, with the season-long loannee arguably being the first centre-back on his manager’s team sheets.
“Ben is already speaking to Sudbury about other players we can take,” said Ward.