SOUTHEND United chairman Ron Martin has defended his decision not to strengthen the Shrimpers squad during the January transfer window.

Martin spoke out before the New Year to confirm he would be bolstering Sol Campbell’s options at Roots Hall.

But, after a poor run of results which made relegation look inevitable, Martin opted against making any new signings.

“I fully intended to support Sol in January and I told him I would do that in his interview but with an expectation of staying in League One,” said Martin.

“We did look at several players on Sol’s radar, two of which were the Macclesfield boys and one was a striker from Carlisle who went to Swindon.

“I guess we were disappointed not to get him but then we had the four games against the teams around us – Bolton, MK Dons, AFC Wimbledon and Tranmere – and we didn’t come through them as successfully as I might have anticipated.

“I started to think if we can’t beat those what are our prospects of staying up?

“It was a balanced decision as to whether I spent more money and I didn’t want to spend money on loanees who wouldn’t be here long-term.”

Hallam Hope is the striker who the Shrimpers missed out on but the club have now signed the former Macclesfield duo of Theo Vassell and Emmanuel Osadebe.

However, the players cannot be registered until Blues come out of a transfer embargo due to money owed to the HMRC.

But Martin insists the Shrimpers did have the freedom to do deals last month.

“We paid off HMRC in the middle of January but then they got us embargoed again,” said Martin.

“It didn’t impact what we were trying to do with Macclesfield and they were, as it proves, available to us.

“They were the two main targets but I didn’t want to make knee-jerk decisions bearing in mind the recruitment policy has been messed up badly on a number of players in almost two successive seasons.

“To make a quick decision with no due diligence was going against my instincts.”

Martin also revealed Blues’ budget is more than £3million this year, the eighth highest in League One.

But the chairman feels he was right to not splash more cash.

“I also looked at the statistics and we need promotion form to stay up,” said Martin.

“Some may argue if I had poured more money into it and got more players we would have enhanced our opportunity.

“That might be true but it’s a business, not a bottomless pit and I have put a huge amount of money into the football club year upon year.”