A MONTH-LONG transfer saga came to an ugly end on Thursday when Sam Baldock announced he would be staying with MK Dons this season.
The 22-year-old travelled to London Road on Wednesday afternoon to meet Peterborough United manager Darren Ferguson to discuss a possible move, but both parties declared late in the day that the deal was off.
But while Peterborough chairman Darragh MacAnthony claimed his side withdrew their offer, Baldock declared that he turned down the chance to move to the Championship club.
A war of words then ensued between the two clubs, with Peterborough the key protagonists in the mud-slinging.
Posh’s offer for Baldock was the third Dons had faced, but this time it met their valuation and was ‘reluctantly’ accepted.
Peterborough also upped their offer for midfielder Stephen Gleeson, though that bid – £600,000 – was rejected.
Baldock said he went for talks with Posh out of courtesy to the club and out of respect for manager Ferguson, but didn’t feel inspired to move to London Road when he arrived.
“As far as I’m concerned, I didn’t want to go there,” Baldock said after returning from talks. “We told them I didn’t want to go there, and they decided to withdraw their offer. So you can make up your own minds as to what happened next!
“We hadn’t even finalised terms. We could have got there on financial terms and in the contract situation. It was more of an issue that I couldn’t get inspired by the place.
“There is no secret that I want to be playing in the Championship – which is one positive for that place – but it just wasn’t inspiring.”
Posh chairman MacAnthony took to Twitter to air his grievances with the way the situation was handled, saying: “We knew the player and his agent would try to save face by saying they rejected the move, but that’s not the truth.”
Meanwhile, Ferusgon released a statement on Posh’s official website claiming Dons were ‘out of order’ for releasing Baldock’s comments.
“In my opinion, Milton Keynes Dons Football Club are out of order by allowing their player to talk about our club in the manner that he did,” Ferguson said in a lengthy rant.
‘The meeting with Sam took place, he came and met me and he was very unenthusiastic, his body language was very poor and I knew straight away that I didn’t want to sign him for this football club.”
His opposite number Karl Robinson refused to be drawn into the slagging match and laughed off Ferguson’s and MacAnthony’s comments.
But Robinson did say he was thrilled to be keeping his leading scorer for the season to come, even though the huge transfer fee – believed to be around £1.2 million – would have helped him bring in new faces.
“I’m over the moon to keep Sam,” he said. “It’s like a new signing, because you’re getting a very hungry young player who wants to be successful.
“It’s a wonderful day for us. You do have to start listening seriously because it (the transfer fee) has a massive influence on the football club.
“The chairman did the best by the club as he always does, and then it was down to Sam to decide his own future – and that was that he is best to stay here at MK Dons.”