Hastings release wantaway midfielder

Simon Johnson effects a sliding tackle in an FA Cup tie against Dulwich Hamlet at the start of September. Picture courtesy Scott White
Simon Johnson effects a sliding tackle in an FA Cup tie against Dulwich Hamlet at the start of September. Picture courtesy Scott White

Hastings United Football Club has released former captain Simon Johnson, ending a saga which has dragged on for more than a month.

The midfielder was under contract at the Bostik League Division One South outfit until the end of the season, but Johnson was released from the contract yesterday (Thursday).

Hastings manager Chris Agutter said: “I’ve told the club to cut their losses and stop paying a player that’s not going to play for the club again. I’m doing what’s best for everyone.”

Johnson won the supporters’ player and players’ player awards last season, but after an injury-affected start to the current campaign, the player told the club towards the end of last month that he wanted to leave.

Hastings subsequently gave Johnson permission to speak with other clubs and Agutter said that Johnson wouldn’t play for the first team again. He has since trained with the club’s academy players, but has still been paid.

Because Johnson was under contract, any club wishing to sign him would have had to agree a fee with Hastings. The club hadn’t received what it considered a suitable offer, however, and therefore opted to release the player from his contract.