KETTERING TOWN have released top-scorer Zema Abbey – and chairman Imraan Ladak has warned more players could leave if the public don't start playing their part at Rockingham Road.
The ET can exclusively reveal the former Norwich City striker has left the Poppies after three impressive months which have seen him score eight goals from his 17 appearances.
Ladak revealed Abbey was the only first-team player who was not on a contract and his release was required to free up funds to sign a new central defender.
Luke Graham is currently boss Morell Maison's only fully-fit centre-half ahead of tomorrow's FA Carlsberg Trophy third qualifying round tie with Clitheroe.
But the chairman added that if gates continue in the same manner as the paltry 736 that showed up to watch them get beaten at home by Vauxhall Motors on Tuesday there could be even more players departing.
Ladak said: "When I looked at the balance of the squad it was obvious to see that – aside from Zema – we had three other excellent strikers and another talented player (Neil Midgley) currently out on loan.
"On the other hand we have released one defender (Mark Burrows), Nathan Koo-Boothe is out with a broken leg and Craig McIlwain is injured, too.
"It's obvious we need another defender and I wanted to give Morell every opportunity to bring one in.
"Unfortunately, Tuesday night forced my hand a bit because I never expected us to drop down to a crowd like that.
"It was 2,000 home fans down on the Oldham game – although I understand that was a huge game for us. But it was still 400-500 down on what we have been getting on a regular basis.
"We are no different to any other club. We have a budget to stick to and I will not keep putting my hand in my pocket when a number of people choose not to come to the games.
"I know there was the attraction of Celtic playing Manchester United on television but that's not my issue.
"Zema has been a model professional and I know he was popular. But he was the only one not on a contract and that made my decision for me."
Rene Howe now looks set to start up front for the Poppies tomorrow while Mark Osborn returns in goal after a three-match ban.
His return has resulted in Paul Musselwhite also being released after playing in the last three games while midfielder Nick Linford has also left after making just two substitute appearances.
Let us know your views on Zema Abbey's departure from Rockingham Road.
Is Imraan Ladak right to let his top scorer leave in order to bring in another defender?
Or will the former Norwich man's exit ruin the Poppies' promotion hopes?
And are the missing fans to blame?
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