Rotherham United walked away from a deal for Tom Bradshaw rather than be held to ransom in their pursuit of the League One hot-shot.
The Welsh international striker is poised to sign for Barnsley tomorrow and the Championship Millers, who had made a club-record transfer bid, have already moved on to other targets.
Chairman Tony Stewart told The Star today: “We had been aware of Bradshaw for a while and then heard Barnsley were in for him a couple of weeks ago.
We had a bid and that bid was upped. We thought we had the deal bagged and done, but then Walsall came back, said there was a late bidder and would we would increase our offer?
“At that point, you think: ‘Okay, what do we do now?’ I asked the manager (Alan Stubbs) if he thought the player was worth more than our last bid and he said ‘no’.
“That was the opinion of the manager and his team and Gee (chief scout Evans). Other clubs may think differently about what a player is worth and, of course, we respect that.”
The Millers haven’t confirmed the size of their final offer for the 23-year-old but it is thought to be around £500,000.
Stewart revealed that Rotherham had also made three bids for Millwall centre-forward Lee Gregory, the last of which would have more than trebled their previous biggest outlay - the estimated £400,000 they paid for Jonson Clarke-Harris in 2014.
“We offered £1.4 million for Lee Gregory,” he confirmed. “We started at £900,000 and went to £1.2m and then £1.4m. Still Millwall wanted more. We went back to the manager and his team to see what they thought. The manager said £1.2m should have got him.
“I am a facilitator. I would have gone back, put in higher bids and got those players if the manager had wanted me to, but he told me what their value was in his eyes and we had reached that.
“We like to get what we feel is value for money. It’s great to have a manager who thinks the same and doesn’t just want to spend a chairman’s money for the sake of it.”
The Millers owner had a message for supporters, some of whom vented their frustration over Bradshaw moving to a South Yorkshire rival on social media.
“I can assure fans about the quality of the players we are working to bring in,” he said. “We will have a better team than we did last season. There is movement. There is a lot of talking, a lot of discussions.
“I’m quite happy with the position we’re in. There’s an incredible amount of work going on behind the scenes and things will happen soon. We have many irons in the fire, many options. In the next week or 10 days I expect there to be very good news.”
Rotherham have cancelled their pre-season friendly at Grimsby Town next Wednesday because of injuries but will honour the final match of their Poland trip, against Gornik Zabrze tomorrow night.
A club statement said: “Regrettably, the Millers have had to request to call off the encounter with the Mariners due to a number of injuries sustained by members of the first-team squad during the club’s pre-season tour of Poland.
“Rotherham United would like to apologise for any inconvenience that this cancellation has caused and thank Grimsby Town for their understanding on this matter.”