Midfielder Samir Carruthers has left Dartford to join Chelmsford after getting an offer he couldn’t turn down.
The 30-year-old scored 10 goals for the Darts this season but netted only once after November as his form tailed away.
The playmaker was well thought of by Dartford boss Alan Dowson who couldn’t compete with the package being offered by fellow National League South side Chelmsford.
Carruthers, who initially joined on loan from Hemel Hempstead under former boss Steve King in 2022, was the only player to miss in the Play-off Semi-Final penalty shoot-out exit to St Albans earlier this month.
“I’d have loved to have kept Samir here, he’s been great for us and I was desperate to keep him,” admitted Dowson.
“But he’s got an offer that he said he couldn’t turn down.
“He’s loved his time at the club but he’s at an age where if someone makes him a good enough offer then (he will go).
“I wish him all the best, I’m disappointed but at the same time, what can we do? We just have to move on.
“The directors know the culture needs changing, we’ll lose some good players but we’ll get some good players in. I’m looking to go a bit younger and a bit hungrier.”
Dowson doesn’t want to get drawn into talking about budgets, knowing that while Dartford are not at the back of the queue there will be other clubs with bigger finances and also the option of offering 52-week deals for players.
Most clubs only pay around 40 weeks, which makes those who want to put players on contract for a whole year even more attractive.
“It's not the club’s fault, it’s not my fault and it’s not the players’ fault so no-one’s really at fault,” said Dowson.
“All I can do is sit a player in a room and tell them my plans. But when someone starts to offer them this and that, or deals that are 52 weeks a year, we can’t afford it.
“So what’s the point of trying to say we can? I think everyone knows that. But don’t say we don’t want to compete and go up because we do.
“We just want to do it the right way. If you splash it this year, you’ve got to do it the year after as well.
“We know where we are. I can’t moan about the budget, I’ve got to get on with it.”