Ben Close reveals events which led to his long Portsmouth stay coming to close for ‘better’ deal at Doncaster Rovers

Ben Close promised he held no bitterness towards Pompey as he turned down reduced terms in favour of a more attractive contract at Doncaster Rovers.

Wednesday, 9th June 2021, 12:25 pm
Updated Wednesday, 9th June 2021, 12:31 pm

The homegrown talent this week ended a near 14-year association with the club he signed at as an 11-year-old, to move to the Blues’ League One rivals.

Pompey opted to not take up an option in Close’s contract for a new agreement, instead tabling a deal which offered a 25 per cent reduction in wages.

That paved the way for the midfielder to consider his options, and choose to link up with Richie Wellens at the Keepmoat Stadium on a three-year agreement.

Despite that sequence of events Close stated he had no issues with either Pompey, as they operate on a reduced playing budget, or new head coach Danny Cowley.

He said: ‘There’s been a lot of mixed emotions.

‘There was a lot of uncertainty and no one knew what was going to happen at the end of the season with my contract ending.

‘I had an optional year and I didn’t know if the club were going to take it or not.

Ben Close has left Pompey for Doncaster. (Photo by Daniel Chesterton/PinPep)

‘I had no contract talks until the end of the season, so I didn’t go in expecting anything.

‘I was very open-minded and when I sat down Danny told me the club weren’t going to take the optional year, but were going to offer a contract.

‘It was then my agent and family had some conversations and a long think, that led to finding other deals out there and eventually choosing Doncaster.

‘I can absolutely see both sides. I’m not leaving with a sour taste in my mouth or angry at the club.

‘It’s completely understandable and was almost the push out the door I might have needed.

‘Danny said he wanted to carry on working with me, but he didn’t have much say in the financial situation. That was between me and the club.

‘I got the deal done with Doncaster and he expressed he was a bit disappointed we couldn’t work something out, but he wished me well and was incredibly supportive.

‘I understand why I wasn’t offered a contract before the season ended, and I wasn’t expecting an incredible deal.

‘When it unfolded and found out the contract offered we wanted to look elsewhere.

‘We felt that can we could maybe get a better deal and putting it all together - the financial side, contract length and opportunity to play football with a manager who’d wanted to sign me before - it felt like the right time to do it.’

Close leaves Pompey after making 190 appearances at the club he supports after making his debut in 2014.

There’s been a kaleidoscope of memories along the way for the Southsea lad to cherish, but he admitted moving on now may well be the best move for his future.

He added: ‘This might be the best thing for my career. I’m really excited about what can happen at Doncaster, and if the club had taken up the optional year it wouldn’t have happened.

‘I’m leaving with incredible memories and I’ve had an incredible time.

‘To play for your boyhood club isn’t something which always happens too often.

‘So to play 190 games, score 19 goals for them and win at Wembley are unbelievable memories.

‘I’ve had a great time and it just feels like the right time to move on, try something different and see how far I can go in the game.’

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