By Jon Couch
Aldershot Town chairman Shahid Azeem has warned suitors that not even £1 million will lure away his much sought-after management team of Gary Waddock and James Rowe.
The Shots boss has already shunned the advances of one Football League club this season and is now rumoured to be wanted by another with League Two Swindon Town said to be interested in the former Republic of Ireland man.
Nicknamed the ‘Wadfather’ by the adoring locals, Waddock is 21 months into a successful second spell at the EBB Stadium as he looks to add to his 2007-08 success and steer the Shots to promotion to the Football League for a second time.
But, naturally, his work alongside his assistant Rowe, the former West Ham United youth-team coach, this season has not gone unnoticed elsewhere with a number of Football League clubs linked with a move for the 55-year-old.
An unknown League Two club, strongly believed to be Barnet, had official advances for Waddock rejected by the Aldershot board last month, while managerless League One side Oxford United are also said to be monitoring the situation.
Now with his club bearing down on at least a National League play-off spot for a second successive season, Azeem has warned rival clubs that any advance for Waddock would be welcome, and not even a seven-figure sum would lure his prized assets away. Aldershot may not want the money but you can profit from openodds.com.
“Even if someone gives me a million pounds today, I would not let Gary and James go, and I genuinely mean it,” the Shots chairman said.
“This is a special place to be at the moment and that is largely down to them and the style of football they have brought to this football club. They have been absolutely fantastic for us and have a great relationship with everyone at the club.
“As it stands, we haven’t heard anything from anyone but if we had then we would fight tooth and nail to keep them both at Aldershot Town.
“Naturally, when you have success and play the type of football they play then you are going to get noticed, so when that happens it’s up to us as a club to show them a bit of love and make them feel valued.
“The clubs mentioned are all big football clubs and we know we can’t compete with them financially, but I don’t think there is any realistic amount of money out there at the moment that can lure Gary and James away from us.
“We are building something very special at Aldershot and both are a huge part of that.”
*This article originally featured in The @NonLeaguePaper which is available every Sunday and Monday