SOUTHEND United chairman Ron Martin insists the club did everything they could to keep Will Atkinson.

The midfielder opted to leave the Shrimpers in favour of a switch to League Two side Mansfield Town.

But Martin remains adamant Blues could not have done any more to keep hold of Atkinson and also revealed the 28-year-old had initially agreed to remain at Roots Hall.

“Phil agreed terms with Will over the phone on Sunday,” said Martin.

“Will then called me directly on Monday evening and asked if I would confirm that conversation in writing which I did within 45 minutes.

“The offer contained an additional signing on fee, not discussed between the player and Phil.

“But it was offered as a show of good faith and to ensure that if Will had any lingering doubts then that may help keep him at Southend.

“On sending the email just after 7pm, as I had promised, I then spoke further with Will to ask when he would come to a decision.

“At that stage he had told us another club was interested but we didn’t know who.

“Will said he would come back to me in an hour but never phoned.

“I subsequently text Will around 9.30pm on Monday to say I could meet with him first thing on Tuesday if that would help, to talk things through, but again there was no response.

“Phil was in the loop throughout but no call from Will was received by him either. “

And Blues eventually discovered Atkinson would be leaving when another Shrimpers player called Phil Brown to tell him the news.

“The next we knew was when another player from the club called Phil about mid morning to say Will Atkinson was going up to Mansfield,” said Martin.

“I now understand that part of the reason is Will saying he wanted to go back north, although at no time has that been said.

“It is disappointing because Will had said to me how happy it is at Southend, that he wanted to stay but wanted us to show him more love which I found strange and very unexpected because we care a lot about our players and work very closely with them.

“But I really do not feel that the club could realistically have done more.”

The Shrimpers had already been in talks with another winger before Atkinson’s departure was confirmed.

And Martin feels that could maybe have played a part in the 28-year--old’s decision to leave.

“Will would know we are planning to strengthen the midfield, to create more goal options, and maybe he thought that would mean him becoming a squad player, who knows,” said Martin.

“It would just have been nice for Will to call as he said he would, if only to say he was now declining the club’s offer, which he had agreed the previous day with the manager.”

However, Martin remains keen to stay on good terms with Atkinson and thanked him for his efforts during his four years with the Shrimpers.

“Will has been a hard working and hugely consistent player for the club,” said Martin.

“I am sure all the supporters would join me in wishing him well at Mansfield Town where I am confident he will be an asset.”