Alex Pike has insisted Gosport Borough have not cashed in on Nathan Ashmore amid their financial struggles.
The Privett Park outfit completed a deal to sell the popular goalkeeper to National League South leaders Ebbsfleet United last night.
I know our supporters will see this as us cashing in but that’s simply not the caseAlex Pike
Borough said in a statement they had received a ‘substantial’ fee for the 26-year-old, with The News understanding the figure is in the region of £10,000.
Gosport are currently facing up to a cash crisis – with an unsettled tax bill, players not being paid and a transfer embargo in force.
But Pike is adamant this deal has been in the pipeline for some time.
‘I’ve always said I’m happy for players to use Gosport Borough as a stepping stone to the professional game,’ said the Borough boss
‘That’s what Nathan has done and we all know he is good enough to play in the Football League.
‘I expect Ebbsfleet to be promoted into the National League and beyond and it’s conceivable he will be playing with them in the Football league in a year or two.
‘They’ve shown interest in him for a while and he’s decided to make the move.
‘I know our supporters will see this as us cashing in but that’s simply not the case.
‘Nathan has always said he would only leave to go to a professional full-time club when the opportunity arises and that time has come.
‘Once he heard of Ebbsfleet’s interest in him, he made it clear to me he would like to go there and advance his career.
‘When I knew that, as manager, I had to get the best deal I could.’
Borough travel to Ebbsfleet on Saturday. But while Ashmore is available to face his former club, Pike does not expect him to start for the title favourites.
‘He’s been a pleasure to manage, a fantastic servant to the club,’ added Pike.
‘He’s quite the character and I wish him well.
‘Knowing Nathan as I do, he won’t want to play against us.
‘He’d find it uncomfortable and very hard to do that but what will be, will be.’
Ashmore spent five successful years at Borough after making the switch from the Hawks, initially on loan, in October 2011.
He won the club’s player-of-the-year title on three occasions.