Notts County were not forced to sell Lee Hughes for financial reasons
NOTTS County were not forced to let big-earner Lee Hughes go because of their cash problems, insists boss Keith Curle.
Striker Hughes, 36, left Meadow Lane for Port Vale just 24 hours before chairman Ray Trew revealed the club is having to make cuts to claw back a £70,000 overspend on wages or risk sanctions from the Football League.
But Curle says the two are not connected – and that Hughes wanted to go because he will earn a deal for next season if he fires Vale to promotion into League One, while the Magpies were not going to offer him a new contract at the end of this season.
Hughes scored on his debut for the Valiants on Saturday as Notts' league game at Portsmouth was called off two hours before kick-off because of a waterlogged pitch.
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"Lee came to see me and told me what Port Vale had offered him and he said it was the right time for him to move because he has the opportunity to play more games and get another year's contract," said Curle.
"He said he wanted to leave and he went with our best wishes because he has been a fantastic servant to the club.
"When a player makes their mind up they want to go you have got to let them go.
"It's very difficult to sit there and say 'no' you've got to stay.
"If it had been a 24-year-old striker that was scoring a lot of goals, it would have been different, but Lee's 36.
"It was not a financial situation. It was purely based on Lee wanting to make a career move."
Hughes' exit has left Notts with just two strikers, in Yoann Arquin and Enoch Showunmi, until Curle can bolster his frontline.
And he says Showunmi is eager to be given a chance, having only started one league game all season.
"Enoch is chomping at the bit to get this chance and he's got ability – he's just got to bring it all together and show it," he said.