Brantham Athletic turned down two offers of more than �10,000 for Ollie Mann

BOSS Tony Hall has revealed Brantham Athletic turned down two offers in excess of �10,000 from non-league clubs for star striker Ollie Mann as they were hoping a Football League club would buy him for more money.

Mann moved from Thurlow Nunn League Premier Division side Brantham to Ryman League Premier Division newcomers Leiston last month for a fraction of that figure.

The 22-year-old, who has scored more than 100 goals in the last three seasons, had been courted by a plethora of Football League and non-league clubs during the last 18 months.

Mann had trials with Colchester United, Dagenham & Redbridge and Gillingham, while Ipswich watched him on numerous occasions, but Hall said a Football League club never made an offer for him.

He said: “We had two offers of �10,000 plus for him from non-league clubs last September/October time, but we took the decision as a club not to sell him at that particular time as he had a host of Football League clubs looking at him.”

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He admitted that it was a brave decision by Brantham to reject the two bids of �10,000 plus each.

“It is unprecedented for a player to go from one non-league club to another for that sort of money at this standard of football.”

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But the gamble to wait for an offer from a Football League club failed to pay off, although the club tried to get him to sign an extension to his contract, which ran out at the end of last season, to increase his value to potential suitors.

Hall said: “I tried last September to get him to sign a new contract, and every month thereafter we were talking to him.

“We made him an offer to stay, but the lure of playing two leagues higher was too much for him to resist. If Leiston had not been promoted then I think he would have stayed at Brantham, but they deservedly won promotion and so he decided to go.”

Mann has been joined at Leiston by Brantham centre back Tom Wray, a former Leeds United Academy player who has also appeared for three semi-professional clubs in his native Northern Ireland.

Hall added: “Tom Wray’s contract ran out at the end of last season, and although I had re-negotiated a new deal he decided to go to Leiston.

“The club are disappointed to lose two good players, who are both nice lads and gave 100 per cent every time they turned out for Brantham.”

Meanwhile, around �50,000 is being spent on improvements at Brantham Athletic’s ground.

Work will be starting in the coming weeks on a multi-purpose sports surface, costing �30,000, to replace the existing tennis courts. Half the cost is being met by the parish council and half through sponsors and donations.

The football club will be able to use this for five-a-side matches and training when their main pitch is too wet, in addition to the surface being used by the tennis and netball clubs based at Brantham Leisure Centre.

An estimated �20,000-�25,000 is to also be spent on improvements to the ground during the 2012/13 campaign, which will be funded from income during the course of the season, to bring it up to Step 3 level by next March.

Brantham considered applying for promotion from the Ridgeons League (Step 5) last season, but then decided against it.

The improvements follow a �400,000 facelift to the leisure centre’s facilities undertaken before the start of last season. The ground is owned by the parish council and Brantham Leisure Centre pay a peppercorn rent.

Darren Smith, who was previously vice-chairman of Halstead Town, has been appointed as chief executive at the club to work along side manager Tony Hall, who said: “He is already making a big impact, and his appointment, together with the improvements taking place, shows our ambition.”

Brantham are currently celebrating their 125th anniversary and are planning to celebrate the landmark with a match against Football League opposition during the course of the season.

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