Ebbsfleet United boss Kevin Watson releases seven players' while captain Jack King announces his retirement
EBBSFLEET UNITED have confirmed they will not be renewing contracts of seven players when they expire this summer.
Goalkeeper Nathan Ashmore; defenders Andre Blackman, Ayo Obileye and Aswad Thomas; midfielders Alex Lawless, Sean Shields and striker Tomi Adeloye have all left Stonebridge Road after receiving phone calls from manager Kevin Watson.
Defender and club captain Jack King has announced his retirement at the age of 34.
The Fleet were in the bottom three in the Vanarama National League table with 40 points from their 39 league games and were three points adrift of safety with seven league games before football was halted due to the coronavirus pandemic.
A club statement said: ”As we all know, with the remaining matches cancelled, the Board of the National League are working to finalise whether play-offs will take place and how other “sporting outcomes” will be concluded.
“The club has made efforts since the end of the season to ensure all our players have been taken care of from a welfare and contractual perspective.
“Irrespective of the League’s decisions going forward, it is clear our club will not be involved in any further competitive fixtures for this season and as such we are obligated to complete our release list.
“With so much uncertainty we felt it important to do this as soon as possible in order to give as much notice and opportunity for our released players.
“The club has held discussions with those players whose contracts with the club expire this summer and as a result we can disclose that the seven players’ contracts will not be renewed.
“We wish to place on record our thanks to all those players for their efforts whilst at Ebbsfleet United and wish them all the best in the future.
“Additionally, Jack King has announced his retirement and we wish our outgoing skipper all the very best and thank him for his leadership and service.
“During these uncertain times, like all clubs, we await news on the National League structure and season commencement. We will continue to work with the remainder of our squad to discuss potential terms and contracts for 2020/21 once more clarity on the structure, dates for commencement of next season and financial climate of the National League and player market is evident.
Watson told www.ebbsfleetunited.co.uk: “I’ve had to make very difficult calls and it’s the toughest part of the job. Those boys that received those calls, I’d like to thank for all their tremendous effort and professionalism over the last few months and I wish them all every success.
“We’ve got targets moving forward but it’s a waiting game, particularly in the current scenario with so many things still up in the air but there’s one thing for sure and that’s about giving the club the best chance to get going once we know where we are and what we’re doing.”
Watson, meanwhile, was full of praise for King, who has been forced to retire due to bad knee and after 16 years’ in senior football playing for Didcot Town, Brackley Town, Farnborough, Woking, Preston North End, Scunthorpe United and Stevenage will make ends meet by taking over his father’s groundwork business.
“Jack King has been an absolute gentleman, a leader and a responsible voice for the players,” said Watson.
“He would do anything for the boys and did so on many occasions.
“He knew how to speak to them and for them, on their behalf. He was very bright, very loyal and what more can I say than he was a proper captain and a leader of men.
“I tried to convince him to do a U-turn, keep his options open but it’s the right time for him and I totally respect that.
“I’ve nothing but respect for what he did in my time here. He always gave 100% and you knew you were going to get that 100% out of him.
“I had one or two times when he was coming back from injury or suspension where I could have gone with other players but thought twice because I wanted a leader out there. Just for those qualities alone I knew Kingy was worth his place in the team and he was outstanding for us, those last few wins we got especially so, immense for the team and the club.
“So I’ve nothing but praise for him. You need a skipper who can represent you in the dressing room but also represent the boys as a player as well, to be on the same page as them. So he’ll be a big loss to his teammates in terms of his personality also and he’s been fantastic in good and bad times. I wish him the very best for the future.”
Visit Ebbsfleet United’s website: www.ebbsfleetunited.co.uk