WITTON will not take a financial risk if the team remains a contender for promotion, according to chairman Mark Harris.

Albion were forced to release striker Ashley Stott this week to balance the books despite climbing to second spot in the Premier Division table following Saturday’s win against Eastwood Town.

Harris told the Guardian that the decision is not evidence of a lack of ambition.

He added: “Does it mean we’re ruling out a push for promotion? No, of course not but it isn’t a case of trying to go up at any cost.

“It’s always the manager’s choice how the budget is spent, but we have to make sure the books are balanced, that’s the number one priority.

“We have to be prudent; our business model has been built on sustainability, and I fully intend for it to stay that way while I’m here.”

Stott, who scored twice in Albion’s promotion play-offs final success in April, was told before kick off for last Tuesday’s Mid-Cheshire FA Senior Cup clash with Middlewich that the club could not afford to keep him.

He still insisted on playing though, ending his second spell in Wincham with two goals in a 9-1 win.

The arrival in the past fortnight of Oliver James and Steve Foster, the reigning Evo-Stik Northern Premier League player of the year, means Witton’s weekly wages spend is now higher than that budgeted for.

“Something had to give,” said manager Brian Pritchard “It’s been an agonising decision to make about a player who will be fondly remembered for his contribution, particularly during the run-in last season.

“It’s important to make clear though this is not a crisis, rather a case of being sensible so as to avoid any problems further down the line.”

Harris revealed that last week’s announcement that the Thundersprint festival is to leave Northwich – bikers have camped on the pitch at Wincham Park while in town for the weekend – leaves a four-figures shortfall in the club’s financial forecast for the current campaign.

Macclesfield Town no longer host youth team matches there either.

“Both decisions, while out of our hands, have had an impact that we couldn’t have envisaged when setting a budget for this season,” he said.