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Bryan Huxford Statement
By: Bill Osborne
GRIMSBY TOWN vice chairman Bryan Huxford today shed more light on the activities behind the scenes in a statement regarding the Lee Matthews fiasco. Huxford explained some of the circumstances leading up to the failure to sign the Leeds striker nearly two weeks ago, and how the gazumping occurred.
Matthews had looked to have agreed to join the Mariners for a nominal fee from Leeds United, but Town were gazumped when Bristol City came in with a late £150,000 offer, which was accepted by the Premiership side. Huxford, in a statement to the Grimsby Telegraph, indicated that the Mariners would have done their best to match City's bid had they been given the opportunity.
The Grimsby Vice Chairman denied that the board were tardy in reaching a decision saying, "I don't think we were slow...We made a decision with the information from Leeds. At the end of the day, they changed their minds and got a better offer and off he went". Matthews had spent over a week at Blundell Park after a 7 day trial with the Mariners.
"The deal for us wasn't Â£150,000." Huxford continued. "Had it been, and had the terms been right, there was no reason we couldn't do it."
"The offer we made him was one he was happy to accept but we never got the chance to make a counter-offer - he was just gone. That's not the player's fault"
"Had Leeds come back to us and said 'this is the offer can you match it?' There's nothing to say this board wouldn't have reconsidered it."
In the same statement Huxford revealed that Grimsby manager Lennie Lawrence had set a "signature window" open until this Saturday for players to accept new terms being offered to them.
"There are a lot of negotiations between the players and the manager. But it's not us dithering. The players want to see where we are next season and you can't blame them for that. I would do the same."
The Town Vice chairman is sympathetic with the long list of players (around 12) out of contract at the end of the season, and is in no rush to secure their signatures ahead of the summer break. "We're not procrastinating. It's the circumstances that are making it difficult. Some of the players want to see what division they're in, and I've told them that if they keep us up it gives them a better bargaining position."
However Huxford did give some clues that some cracks were about to open in the deadlock saying: "I think we are quite close with Grovesy and Macca and I think Peter Handyside wants to stay."
The Grimsby supremo is amazingly relaxed about the lack of new deals, commenting: "We're not unhappy about the situation. The ballpark is entirely different depending on where we are, so what's the hurry? What's the rush?"
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