STEVE Claridge has rubbished Tom Killick’s claim that Salisbury are forking out "National League money".

Killick, boss of National League South outfit Poole Town, made the comment after losing star striker Marvin Brooks to Claridge’s Evo-Stik South West promotion hopefuls.

“That’s absolute nonsense. A myth,” Claridge retorted.

“I can’t think of a club in the National League that would have more than half its squad on £140 a week or less.

“It’s also a bit rich coming from a club which has been happily spending sums on wages to win promotions while the infrastructure is clearly not up to scratch.”

The war of words was sparked when Killick stated it would be “horrific” for Brooks to drop two leagues, adding: “He doesn’t want to play in that league, but feels it’s something he has to do because of the financial rewards.

“Salisbury are paying National League money,” he continued. “It’s astounding, really, what they do in the league they’re in – that’s not a criticism, it’s a compliment.

And referring to Salisbury’s loss in last season’s South & West play-off final, Killick said: “It must have been a catastrophe for them not to get out of that league and you would imagine they’ll win it by 20 or 30 points next season.

"But, even if they do, Marvin will be playing at a level of football he shouldn’t be the following year.”

Retaliating on Salisbury FC’s official website, Claridge fumed: “This is so far off the mark and Tommy is betraying his lack of knowledge of our club and our league and showing disrespect to both.

“Everybody seems to offer an opinion about our football club without knowing the true facts.

"We are not paying fortunes, despite this view of us put about by those who have some sort of agenda or who guess at these things.

“We will have the same budget as last year when we were a long way from being the highest payers in our league. Even if you take Hereford out, there were others paying more than us.

“We pushed the boat out for one player last year and that was Justin Bennett. When he decided to go to Oxford City, I knew we had to use his money for another big player and that player was Marvin Brooks, who will be on the same as Justin was last year.

“We cut our cloth according to the gate money we bring in from our fantastic average league crowds of 700, events, sponsorship and other revenue, as a report from our finance director has confirmed."

Poole finished a remarkable fifth in their debut National League South season, but were unable to take part in the play-offs due to ground grading issues.

Claridge added: “To say that Marvin didn’t want to play in our league is probably true as he wants to progress, as does Salisbury FC. He certainly wanted to play for me and this club. That was clear from our conversations.

“As for his money being ‘astounding’, well, when he told Poole he was leaving, all of a sudden they offered him the same money but he still wanted to go because of certain issues between him and the club.

“I think he realises that Salisbury FC have a lot of potential and I know he was disappointed that Poole were unable to take their place in the National League South play-offs.”