Harrogate Town’s National League rivals Salford City are causing something of a stir with their close-season recruitment drive.
The ambitious Ammies, the side that Simon Weaver’s men went toe-to-toe with last term for the National League North title, are splashing the cash and have landed a host of high-profile signings.
Their most recent capture is striker Adam Rooney whom they have prized away from Aberdeen for a reported six-figure fee and will be paying £4,000 per week in wages, according to Granite City newspaper The Evening Express.
The 30-year-old Irishman netted 87 goals in 194 appearances for the Dons, the second best team in the Scottish Premier League in 2017/18 after finishing as runners-up to champions Celtic.
Rooney was set to tackle Premiership outfit Burnley in the second qualifying round of the Europa League later this month, but has instead opted to make the switch to Salford, who, like Harrogate, were promoted to the fifth tier of English football for the first time in their history at the end of the previous campaign.
The signing of the former Stoke City, Oldham and Birmingham forward prompted Accrington Stanley chairman Andy Holt to take to Twitter and accuse Salford co-owner Gary Neville of attempting to ‘steal’ a place in the Football League and ‘buying your way in.’
Former England defender Neville, who has invested in the Ammies alongside fellow Manchester United ‘class of 92’ stars Ryan Giggs, Paul Scholes, Nicky Butt and Phil Neville, responded by Tweeting ‘We put a lot of money in and aren’t embarrassed about it. You seem to want a franchise league where the established can’t be challenged!’
Rooney’s arrival follows that of ex-Peterborough man Danny Lloyd, who made 31 League One appearances last term, registering eight goals.
Other players to drop down two divisions to join Salford include Rory Gaffney (42 games for Bristol Rovers) and Nathan Pond (27 starts in a Fleetwood Town shirt).
City finished top of National League North in 2017/18, edging Town out in a fierce title battle that went right down to the last two weeks of the season. They eventually ended the campaign six points ahead of Weaver’s charges, who sealed their own promotion through the play-offs.
This time around, Town travel to Salford on November 27 before the teams meet again at the CNG Stadium on March 12.