Johnson captained Hastings in their 2-1 defeat at home to Thamesmead Town on Tuesday night, but was left out of the squad for yesterday’s (Saturday’s) 4-3 loss at home to Ashford Town (Middx) in the Buildbase FA Trophy.
A club statement from Hastings released this morning read: “In view of the club becoming aware rumours were circulating both at The Pilot Field and online yesterday regarding the club’s player Simon Johnson, the club felt it was important to clarify the position as regards the player.
“Simon Johnson has advised the club in the last few days that he wishes to leave the club. The club were disappointed to hear this from Simon, both because of his capability as a player, but also because the club has provided Simon with a substantial remuneration package since he signed a contract in August 2015, plus the club has just recently paid out considerable sums to get Simon back to fitness following injury.
“Simon Johnson is under written contract to Hastings United FC to the end of the 2017/18 season. The club, however, have had to reluctantly accept that it is not really tenable to keep an unhappy player.
“Therefore, Simon has been given permission to speak to other clubs, but only on the basis that any club that wishes to sign Simon has to agree arrangements that are acceptable to Hastings United FC in order to complete the signing.”
Former Eastbourne Borough player Johnson last season won the club’s players’ player and supporters’ player of the season awards following a series of all-action displays in midfield.
His performances helped Hastings reach the Bostik Football League Division One South (or Ryman Division One South as it then was) play-offs last term, but a vastly different Hastings side lies 16th in the table this season with 15 points from 14 matches.