Aidy Boothroyd says it would have been ‘irresponsible’ to sell Adebayo Akinfenwa, who was released by the club this week, to a rival in the January transfer window.
It was confirmed on Tuesday that Akinfenwa will be one of seven players whose contract at Sixfields will not be renewed when it runs out in July.
It brings to an end a second spell at the club for a striker who has become a cult figure among the supporters for his goalscoring exploits on the pitch and his charismatic personality off it.
His time was almost cut short in January, when it is understood Gillingham made an offer for the striker, but Boothroyd says it would not have been right to sell him to a team that were leading the division at that time, and who went on to claim the league two championship.
“We did have an offer for him from one of our competitors and I spoke to our chairman about it at length at the time,” he said.
“He asked me what we would be doing with the player in the summer and I didn’t know at that point.
“I didn’t want to sell him to one of our competitors because that would have been an irresponsible thing to do.”
Akinfenwa now joins the ranks of out-of-work footballers but his record of 17 goals this season means he is unlikely to be short of suitors.
Boothroyd maintains he has a lot of time for the 31-year-old on a personal level but that it was the right decision, professionally, to allow him to leave the club.
“As a person, you couldn’t meet a nicer bloke,” he said. “He’s such a wonderful guy and after his career finishes he’ll probably go on to be a TV presenter or something.
“It was purely a football decision. I didn’t think that for us to go forward he wouldn’t be contributing as much as he has done in the past.
“You also have to weigh up how much money it costs to keep certain players and so that’s why that decision was made.
“He has done very well for us but we have to move on as a club.”