AFC Fylde and Stockport County’s official channels both confirmed Lewis Montrose departure from Edgeley Park yesterday, and it was revealed that this was not the first time the Lancashire club had tried to sign County’s two-time player of the year.
In only February of this year, the Coasters approached County with a view to signing Montrose, but were rebuffed when a clause in his contract meant he could only leave for a club in the higher divisions.
With Fylde’s promotion, that has now happened and there was nothing stopping Dave Challinor from re-approaching the holding midfielder and activating the release clause in his contract (rumoured to be £15,000).
AFC’s chairman, David Haythornthwaite revealed that he was delighted the deal was now over the line.
“We are delighted to finally welcome Lewis to the club”, he told their official club website.
“We tried to get him in February last season as we were aware there was a buy-out clause in his contract. However, the clause was restrictive in that it only allowed a move to a club in a higher division than Stockport”.
Jim Gannon, meanwhile, shared the fans disappointment, but was upbeat about County’s chances of replacing the former Manchester City trainee.
“Lewis has been an outstanding member of the team, earning back-to-back Player of the Year awards… We are naturally disappointed to lose Lewis from our squad”, he told County’s official website yesterday.
“We are confident that we have an excellent replacement for his central midfield role in the team in Harry Winter. We were mindful of the potential loss of Lewis at some point due to injury or transfer, so we added Harry from FC United in early March”.
Gannon also revealed how hard the club had tried to remove the infamous clause from Montrose’s contract, and his words including a slight dig at the former management for allowing it to be present in the first place.
“We found it difficult to negotiate out of his contract a ‘release’ or ‘buyout’ clause that was granted by the previous manager”.
The 27-year-old has clear ambitions to play at a high level and despite his long-term signature earlier in the season, it is clear that the vast majority of players would not want to be held back if a full-time club came calling (especially when they have the financial backing that Fylde do).
Here at EH, we wish Lewis Montrose all the best for his time at Mill Farm.