Bury Town boss Richard Wilkins frustrated by his ‘worst pre-season’
BURY Town boss Richard Wilkins has spoken of his frustrations at trying to assemble his squad for next season.
Contract negotiations have proved tricky for Wilkins as for the second season running since promotion to the Ryman League Premier Division, Bury have not known which league they will be playing in the following season until losing in the end-of-season play-offs.
Striker Kieran Leabon and centre back Roscoe Hipperson have both been released, while left winger Danny Cunningham has signed a two-year deal with rivals Lowestoft Town.
Seven players have already committed to the club for next season, and Wilkins said three or four more were close to agreeing new deals.
However, Wilkins, who has criticised some of his players for using social media websites to discuss whether they will sign new contracts, said he had been “caught between a rock and a hard place” over negotiations.
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“It has been the worst pre-season I can remember with all the hassles I have had.
“Each year we try to get contracts for the following season sorted out as early as possible, but for the past couple of years when we have spoken to players after Christmas they have quite rightly said ‘we don’t know what league we will be in next season, and if we get promoted we would want more money’ to me.
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“You are trying to get ahead of the game, but if you have a chance of promotion you are not going to get players signing the same deal if you go up and then face the extra travelling that brings with it.
“We have been caught between a rock and a hard place and it has caused delays because of that.”
Billy Clark, Marcus Garnham, Connor Hall, Callum Kearns, John Kennedy, Lee Reed and John Sands have already committed to the Ram Meadow club for next season, but among those who have not is striker Reed’s brother Sam Reed.
Wilkins said: “We sat down with Sam for about an hour and he was adamant he didn’t want to commit yet as he wanted to see what we were doing about bringing players in and he may get other clubs asking about his services.
“We have to be careful and make sure that what we offer a player that they are going to be worth it and that we can control our budget.
“Too many clubs during the first three months of the season spend too much on players and then have to release them because they are out of the cups and are in mid-table.
“We have to make sure that whatever we are paying them each week we can pay over the course of the season.
“Whatever Sam and other players decide Bury Town will still be here next season, although I may have to lose a player in terms of numbers in the squad to balance the books as we only have a certain size of cloth.”