SOUTHEND United manager Steve Tilson says the police raids at Roots Hall and chairman Ron Martin's home were all over a bunch of shirts.

Tilson claimed Mr Martin's main involvement with Tewkesbury councillor Sean Connors, who was arrested and bailed last week on suspicion of money laundering and corruption, was in giving him some football kit.

The silver shirts were left over from an LDV Vans Trophy final against Blackpool in March 2004.

Tilson said: "We had lots of shirts left over from that day and the councillor in question asked Ron if we had any kit lying around because he's involved with a football team.

"Ron obliged and that's the principal part of his relationship with the man.

"This is something we do all the time. We get all kinds of requests for kit and things like that and we are only too happy to help people out when we can."

Tilson was confident Mr Martin and his property development company Martin Dawn would soon be cleared.

He played down Martin Dawn's involvement with a plot of land in Tewkesbury, Gloucestershire.

He said: "I know what people might be thinking, but Ron's had that land for about ten years.

"The planning application hasn't gone in yet either, and I can't believe some of the reports I have read about all this. They have been outrageous.

"It seems Ron has been dragged into something he doesn't know a lot about."

Mr Connors, 46, of Brockworth, Gloucester, confirmed Mr Martin had donated the shirts for local amateur team Brockworth Albion.

He denied it was any attempt to influence a planning decision.

He said: "If you are going to bribe someone, then it would not be me, but someone with more power. I was just the leader of a very small minority group."

Independent councillor Mr Connors said he would describe Mr Martin as an "acquaintance".

He said: "Ron Martin is somebody who approached me a while ago on a planning issue. We met a couple of times.

"It was to do with Tewkesbury Borough Council and the site at Leckhampton Lane.

"There are lots of people interested in developing the site."

Last week, police carried out raids in Gloucester, Warwickshire and Leicester, as well as raiding the Martin Dawn offices at Roots Hall and Mr Martin's home in Benfleet.