FOOTBALL: Harkin and McLaughlin released

IT'S been a bit of a whirlwind few days at The Showgrounds.

Star striker Leon Knight has shown his commitment to the club by penning a new 18-month contract.

At one stage though it looked as though the Londoner would be heading for the exit door as a number of English clubs declared their interest in him.

But Knight proved true to his word and signed an extended deal with the Bannsiders.

Two players have left the club. Defender Paddy McLaughlin and midfielder Gareth Harkin have both been released with David Platt revealing finances played their part in the decision, along with Harkin's current work commitments.

"Given the current financial climate, we concluded it was in the best interests of both the club and the players that we released them," said Platt.

"These are difficult times for us financially. It's well documented that we've had hardly any income through the gate over the last two months.

"The Board have been working very hard to get some things up and running and to ensure money keeps coming into the club."

"Gareth is someone I brought to the club when I first took over and he has done exceptionally well for me.

"But work commitments over the last three months have meant he has been unavailable for training most weeks and for a lot of our midweek matches.

"There will be a couple of young players leaving the club on loan this week and ultimately, the reality of the situation is that it comes down to balancing the books.

"With that in mind, it is difficult to try and bring anyone else in, that's just the nature of the game at the minute. To be honest I don't envisage being able to bring anyone in.

"Keeping Leon though does not mean we have to get rid of anyone. The slight increase in his deal is sponsored by a businessman in the town.

"It is encouraging to see people pulling together to and try to help us like that and now it's down to us to pull together as a team over these next few weeks and make a real effort to get into the top six."