Alfie May departed Cheltenham Town in July as a club legend, breaking several records during his three-and-a-half year stay in Gloucestershire – including becoming the club’s all time record EFL goalscorer with an emphatic tally of 58. However, there has been a lot of animosity associated to the fee it took Charlton Athletic to lure away the 30-year-old.
Although many wanted to disregard and deny the possibility of the forward’s decision to explore a move away from the Completely-Suzuki Stadium, there was always the reality that this day would come. Furthermore, on the back of two incredibly successful seasons, for both club and individual accolades respectively, it was widely considered that any move which materialised would be as a result of a club from a higher division swooping in.
Amongst the Robins fanbase, many were expecting an handsome fee as a result of two back-to-back 20+ goal seasons in a struggling League One side. However, as we now know, this was not to be the case whatsoever.
Ultimately, the Cheltenham Town ‘Player of The Year’ was sold for a sum in the region of £250,000 to fellow third division outfit Charlton Athletic, who he conveniently netted his last goal for The Robins against with his last touch of a football before being substituted ensuring an emotional send off.
Rightfully, many fans and followers of lower-league football were perplexed at the significantly low offer being accepted. Especially when you factor in Doncaster Rovers, retained a 20% sell-on clause as part of his move away from South Yorkshire in 2020.
Furthermore, at a recent Cheltenham Town ‘fan forum’, Director Paul Godfrey opened up on the whole ordeal regarding the move which was labelled as a ‘gentleman’s agreement’. Reported by Gloucestershire Live, Godfrey explained;
“Only three clubs showed genuine interest one in League Two and they weren’t offering enough money, two others one he didn’t want to go to. The only one he wanted to go to was Charlton Athletic, Charlton former Premier League club, massive stadium, massive commercial income, massive income.”
To consolidate the financial implications, Mr Godfrey continued;
“A club like that can blow us out of the water in terms of the money then can offer a player. As soon as the player finds out you have lost him, he is gone.”
Interestingly, he continued by comparing the move as similar to Ben Tozer’s, when the 33-year-old joined Wrexham AFC in August 2021, despite being club captain at the time.
Regarding the lowly figure which was presented to Cheltenham Town, Godfrey continued;
“When we played Peterborough away last season, Alfie scored two incredible goals. I went back in afterwards and Barry Fry comes up to me and says “That Alfie, he’s a good little player isn’t he” and I turned around and said you going to make us an offer then Barry? And he replied “oh no he’s you know, not my type” and I knew exactly what he was saying and in that moment it dawned on me we’re going to have a problem here because he’s so popular. The problem was if Barry Fry doesn’t want to sell him then that tells something. There’s no re-sale in that player”
Circling back to the previously-mentioned ‘gentleman’s agreement’, Cheltenham Town chairman David Bloxham added;
“First of all, Alfie had one year left on his contract like you said, the previous year before he left he expressed the wish to go and he wanted to go and he had a very good offer, we managed to persuade him to stay another season and he scored 20 goals for us, but we agreed with him that if he did that we would consider offers for him. We didn’t receive all the high offers that people suggested we did, none from Championship clubs.”
Since joining Charlton Athletic, May has continued to shine in League One, where he currently sits as the division’s leading scorer, returning 14 goals in 17 appearances, including a recent brace against former employers Cheltenham Town.
Although the transfer was completed over four months ago, Cheltenham fans have been left in the dark pondering on why such a decision was made for such an unsubstantial amount of money, in comparison to what they valued their star man.
The reasons portrayed by the board will give them closure, however where some may find peace with the news, others may feel more betrayed and disappointed with how the whole situation was handled, especially when their former starlet continues to perform exceptionally, subjecting them most recently to a 2-1 defeat.