Craig Mackail-Smith rejected clubs higher up the Football League to sign for Luton Town in order to “be happy”, according to boss John Still.
A month of speculation ended on Saturday when the Scottish international striker was officially unveiled as a Hatter after penning a two-year deal, though the manager admitted that a deal had been agreed even before last Monday’s deadline for showdown talks.
“He had something come up quite close to that Monday, which was a good club, but the overriding factor was that he wants to be happy first.”John Still
Mackail-Smith was released by Championship Brighton but had no qualms about dropping to League Two to reunite with Still and a number of his coaching staff who took him from non-league Arlesey Town to Dagenham & Redbridge in 2004.
Still said: “Every indication, when I spoke to him, was, ‘I’m fine. I’m not looking at anything else.’ He had something come up quite close to that Monday, which was a good club, but the overriding factor was that he wants to be happy first.”
Still also revealed that money was not a factor in the negotiations despite Brighton’s record signing having to take a pay cut from the £17,000 a week he was reportedly on at the Amex.
The Hatters chief said: “Money was never really spoken about. I outlined to him where our budget lines were. From Craig’s point of view he felt he’d earned good money for the last couple of years – Championship money. He’s an international player but I think he actually felt that maybe he didn’t enjoy it as much as he would have liked [at Brighton].
“He just felt that these next three or four years, he wants to enjoy his football more.
“The negotiations over money [took] five minutes. I said at the start, there is no point talking if we are talking [wages like] a telephone number. He said, ‘no, it’s within the club’s budget and I understand that.’”