STEVE EVANS has professed his deep surprise at Kieran Agard’s decision to reject interest from a ‘worldwide name’ in Leeds United to drop down a division and join Bristol City.
The Londoner completed his move from Rotherham United to the Robins yesterday after the west country outfit agreed an undisclosed fee with the Millers, believed to be close to £1m.
The switch comes after Agard and his representatives could not agree personal terms with Leeds late last week, with the Whites unwilling to raise their offer to meet his wage requirements.
Evans also claimed that, despite concerted attempts by Millers to persuade Agard to agree a new deal, they were facing a losing battle after the club’s promotion to the Championship, with the striker and his camp soon expressing a desire to leave.
On Agard rebuffing Leeds to head to Bristol, the Millers chief said: “I am surprised. I am not surprised we gave him permission to talk to Bristol City because they agreed to match the valuation served by Tony Stewart.
“But, wow – you turn down Leeds United and drop a league and go to Bristol City. That is no disrespect to Bristol City, but I am surprised.
“Bristol City is a wonderful club with a fantastic owner, great supporters and are a big club for League One. I just find it surprising you would turn down a household, worldwide name in Leeds United and go to Bristol City.
“You can go to the wildest place in Africa and when someone says Leeds, people know Leeds United, don’t they?”
He added: “To be fair to Rotherham United, Kieran’s representatives made it clear from the day after Wembley that under no circumstances would they entertain him staying here.
“If that has been the case and I believe Paul Douglas’s attempts to get Kieran to extend his contract have been three and four months long, obviously you have to release the value on that player and that is what we have done.”
Despite Agard’s decision to leave, Evans remains thankful for the input of the forward, who fired 22 goals to help the Millers back to the Championship last term en route to back-to-back promotions, with the Scot plucking him from obscurity at Yeovil to put him on the footballing map.
But despite Evans’s admiration for Agard’s achievements and character, he is just as adamant that the Millers cannot – and will not in the future – keep players on their books who want to leave.
Evans said: “Kieran is a fantastic young man, he comes in with a smile every day and all the speculation has never affected him.
“If it is purely a football thing, then you would say of course I am disappointed to lose any good player. Kieran is a very talented boy who we gave a chance to.
“But the biggest factor for me is, as I say to every player, if you don’t want to be at Rotherham United, do us a favour, get on the train and leave town. We don’t want you.
“We want people to come and live and breathe this project and Kieran did, every day he came in with a smile.
“But Kieran (then) wanted to be someone else and we wish him every success.
“He is a smashing kid. But to take a step down to League One, he must think he is doing that for 12 months. We will see if that bigger picture is bigger.”
Following Agard’s exit, Evans is now focusing on some incoming business, but insists that the club will not break their wage structure to accommodate players.
Evans says personal terms were the reason for the Millers’ decision to pull out of the race to sign Stevie May – now with Sheffield Wednesday – and has vowed that the club won’t budge from their wage ceiling in the future.
The Millers chief, in talks regarding a possible loan arrival, added: “People have wage structures. He (Agard) signed for Bristol City so that would maybe tell you something, that their wage structure is different to Rotherham United’s.
“But what is important to our football club is that we stick to our structure and the message is loud and clear to our players – it has been to new players and is to players we have kept from previous times – this club has a structure that will not be broken.
“This football club under Tony Stewart cannot go back to the dark days of paying what you can’t afford and mortgaging tomorrow’s money. It’s just not an option.
“I was the one who made the final decision to withdraw from (the deal for) Stevie May and I was the one who made the decision that if we are not going to get Kieran to extend his deal, then the value inside this football club must be to sell him.
“But we have to get the right price and I am told that has been matched by Paul Douglas (chief operating officer). When you are getting a transfer fee very near to a million pounds and a guarantee that additional plusses are added to that, it’s great value for Rotherham United.”
Summer arrival Paul Green, described by Evans as the club’s best player ‘by some distance’ so far this season, will be sidelined for two to three weeks with a foot injury.