Football
Hartson tells of broken promises at Sky Blues

By Steve Carpenter 16/02 Updated: 16/02 10:26

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Buy photos » Richard Shaw spent his testimonial match marking former City striker John Hartson - who received a mixed reaction from the Sky Blues fans, but was given a standing ovation when substituted.

FORMER Sky Blues striker John Hartson has revealed broken promises were the reason why he left the club to join Scottish Premier League giants Celtic.

Hartson was drafted in by Gordan Strachan to help save the club from relegation back in 2001, but despite his best efforts, the Sky Blues slipped out of the top flight of English football after a 34 year stint at the top.

Speaking to fans after Tuesday night's 2-1 win over Leeds, the former Welsh international revealed he would have been more than happy to stay at Highfield Road to help guide the club back at the first attempt.

But the departure of key players forced Hartson out of the club and he headed north of the border that summer to join Martin O'Neill's revolution at Celtic.

"I was made promises but I was let down," said Hartson, who went on to play for West Brom and Norwich before retiring in 2008.

"That summer I met with Gordan Strachan and Bryan Richardson and they offered me an extra year on top of my contract and the captaincy to stay. I thought "fantastic".

"I was made a promise that we were going to stick together and we would come up as a team the following season, but that never happened.

"I went on holiday with my family, put Sky Sports News on and saw on the flashing news screen that Craig Bellamy had been sold to Newcastle for £6million and Mustapha Hadji had gone to Aston Villa for £4million. So what am I meant to think then?

"I spoke with Strachan and said I had Steve McClaren on the phone wanting me to go to Middlesbrough and Martin O'Neil was begging me to move to Celtic. And that's when I downed my tools and went.

"I would have been genuinely happy to stay if they had kept the squad together, but they went back on their word and sold them and we had no chance after that.

"I believe had we kept on to Bellamy, Hadji and myself we might have had a chance of coming straight back up the following year."

Hartson was guest at the Ricoh Arena with the Coventry City Former Players' Association (CCFPA) and the Welshman was confident the club could avoid relegation this time around after what he saw during the win over Leeds.

"It was a great win for Coventry and I thought they deserved it," Hartson added.

"They pressed and they pressed and they eventually got their reward and that shows there is spirit in the team.

"If Coventry carry on playing like that and continue to show the same spirit and commitment they can win enough games.

"They're in a difficult situation but with a little bit of luck and a little run of games I've seen enough to suggest they can stay up."

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