NIC CIARDINI has spoken out about his controversial decision to play once again for his home town club Farnborough.
The popular left-sided Lewes player last week began playing again for the same Cherrywood Road outfit that he left last summer to join Steve King’s Lewes side.
It wasn’t so much his choice to rejoin the Yellows that upset many Lewes fans but the apparenttly inconsiderate timing of the decision. Many Rooks fans thought the move highly suspicious, coming as it did on the back of the previous week’s announcememt from the club that Ciardini’s contract had been cancelled but he would remain a non-contracted player – still registered with Lewes.
Rumours were rife on forums that the 23-year-old had somehow got one over the Dripping Pan outfit by angling to have his contract status changed so he could then run straight back to the club he had spent 13 years with as man and boy.
But the likeable Ciardini this week spoke to Sport Express to say the truth was nothing like that and, while he admitted the timing of events “made things look bad”, he had no idea that Farnborough would make the approach for him when his contract was cancelled with Lewes.
And the left-footed player also said he had fully intended to turn out for Lewes in the next game after news of his contract amendment, but that the big freeze that affected the whole of Britain and wrote off Rooks matches for consecutive weekends only made matters worse – because the next time he turned out in a game it was for his old Hampshire club Farnborough (in a friendly against Godalming Town on Wednesday of last week).
Ciardini yesterday spoke to the Sussex Express to explain that the contract was only altered because a change in his work commitments meant he felt he could no longer do justice to the money he was receiving from the Sussex club as a contracted player.
He also confirmed that he is dual registered to play for both Farnborough and Lewes – and revealed that he took a pay cut to return playing for Boro again. He also revealed that a number of other clubs – and not just Farnborough – approached him with considerably better offers than the one offered to him by the Hampshire club.
And Ciardini also said that any issues with fans being left in the dark over the situation may have been down in part to the player himself agonising for so long on the decision of what that officials at the Dripping Pan club themselves weren’t sure what the eventual outcome would be.
Ciardini said: “I work in the construction industry, I run jobs as a site agent. I had been based in Cranleigh but things changed and my base became Bath.
“Under Steve King as manager I had some agreements with him, including about training.
“A new regime came in and I was totally fine with that. And I was totally fine to do all the travelling for training and games but I have to admit that it broke my back doing it.
“The three hours driving didn’t make doing it any easier. It would have strained my relationship with the other Lewes players if I couldn’t train with them. And I couldn’t expect the club to keep paying me if I wasn’t training or doing what everybody else was doing. So we agreed to change my contract.
“We were due to play (against Leatherhead at home) at the end of that week but the weather intervened and we didn’t play again for three weeks. I wanted to play for Lewes again but the snow forced it off.
“In that time I found out that Farnborough had made an approach for me. After the seven days (a club must wait that time when making a “seven day approach” for players who are non-contracted but registered to other clubs) they rang me.
“It was such a difficult decision. I wanted to carry on playing for Lewes and push for the play-offs, or I could make things easy for me (travelling-wise by returning to Farnborough).
“But on the other hand I live only 30 second from the ground in Farnborough. And I turned down bigger offers as well. Farnborough wasn’t the only club that came in with a seven-day for me.
“And I didn’t take the decision lightly. It was a hard decision to make. I had two or three weeks
“But I understand it looked terrible. I’ve got to accept that.”
Ciardini did also point out that the only reason he left Farnborough – his boyhood club – in the first place was because they made the move to full-time which was clearly at odds with his career outside football. And in a clear reference to the odd mindless idiot on the unofficial Lewes fans forum who hides behind a pseudonym to slate a player for lacking “loyalty” Ciardini revealed that he was accused of being a “traitor” by a Farnborough fans when, over the Christmas period on a day when Lewes had no game, he made a rare return to Cherrywood Road to watch his old club in action. Being a footballer nowadays, at any level, means you can’t win whatever you do, it seems.
Ciardini admitted his performances over the past month of so while playing for Lewes had tailed off following his superb start in a Rooks shirt, and he put that down to the ongoing strain of work, travelling, training and playing.
But he said: “I hope Lewes fans can appreciate that I have always given my best to their club. I’ve never not given 100 per cent. But my work has to come first My employers game me my apprenticeship so they showed me plenty of support.
“I am dual registered with both clubs (Lewes and Farnborough) and I would never say never (about the prospect of playing for Lewes again).
“But I just wanted Lewes fans to know the truth about how all this happened. The fans have been great to me there and I only wish Lewes Football Club all the very best.”