Raith Rovers insist they did all they could to keep John Baird after the striker made a shock move to Championship rivals Queen of the South this week.
Chief executive Eric Drysdale stressed that Rovers matched the terms on offer from the Dumfries club, but explained that the Ramsdens Cup hero had made his mind up to leave Stark’s Park for a second time.
“It’s disappointing that he’s decided to move sideways in effect,” Drysdale said. “We certainly did all we could to keep him.
“We just have to move on - footballers make decisions at this time of year and if a player wants to try his hand elsewhere there’s nothing we can say or do. We just have to move on.”
Baird originally signed for Raith from Airdrie in 2010, spending two years at the club, scoring 26 goals in 73 appearances before moving to the Premier League, spending a season with Dundee before joining Partick last summer.
However, after an unhappy six months at Firhill, he was released and returned to Rovers for a second time in January, where he rejuvenated his career, notching eight goals in 14 appearances, including the winner in the Ramsdens Cup final against Rangers.
Baird has since spoken of his affinity for the Kirkcaldy club, but he told the Press this week that he felt the time was right to move on.
“It’s an asbolute wrench to leave Raith Rovers but I had to think of the big picture regarding my family,” he said.
“It’s nothing to do with finances, it’s about the flexibility of the contract and how good it is for my family as well.
“Raith will always be in my heart, and I’m not just saying that to be cheesy.
“I’m not looking forward to going back to play there because of how I feel about the club. I hope I don’t get booed.
“It’s just the way it worked out. It was best decision for myself and my family and I’m delighted to be joining Queen’s.
“Jim McIntyre has tried to sign me a few times, and when somebody shows that much belief in you it’s great.”
Rovers manager Grant Murray admitted that he was surprised to see Baird leave for another Championship club, but accepted the player’s decision.
“People will ask why he’s wanted to move, but there’s lots for players to take into consideration nowadays,” he said.
“They train in Glasgow, so that will obviously make it a bit easier for him.
“He’s a player I’d hoped to keep, and we did what we could to persuade him to stay.
“We made him a good offer, but he’s ended up signing for QOTS and we wish him all the best.”
There was a mixed reaction on Twitter to Baird’s shock move with one fan tweeting: “If he really loved the club he would’ve stayed, no longer a club legend in my book I’m afraid”, while another said: “Good luck to him. His goals won us a cup, and ultimately kept us up. Not sure why anyone would badmouth him.”