Steve Cotterill admitted that he was loathe to part with central defender Wayne Thomas, but the deal represented great business for the club.

"When it hit £1.2million it was a time we decided to sell," said Cotterill.

"There's been dialogue with them (Southampton) now for probably about two weeks, to which the first five bids were totally unacceptable."

"But when we got to the stage that we got to I kept Wayne in touch with it because, these days, agents always get to know about it and players always get to know about it anyway as a knock-on effect.

"I thought it was important that Wayne knew and I told him when they came in with the first bid, which was derisory.

"Then I said if we got to a stage where the going rate was paid then it was up to him and it was his decision on what he wanted to do.

"I didn't want to lose him, however, I think that he wanted a fresh start.

"I'm sorry to see him go, but then I suppose from the business side of it we have to look at someone in the last year of their contract, a deal for £1.2million is excellent."

Cotterill famously made a 24 round trip to Florida, where Thomas was on holiday, to secure the defender's signature on a free transfer.

And he admitted he had no regrets about the lengths he went to in an effort to snap up the former Stoke stopper.

"I went to great lengths to sign Wayne and I am pleased I did," said Cotterill, who made Thomas captain at the start of last season after the defender recovered from two serious injuries in his first season with the club.

He later handed the armband over to January signing Steven Caldwell, after feeling the pressure of the role was affecting Thomas's performances.

"I think during the time, he had been through a few ups and downs with the couple of injuries he had and with the sending offs.

"And with the captaincy taken away from him I think it probably opened me up to a bit of criticism as well," Cotterill continued.

"I remember someone had given me a message off a messageboard, which is probably the worst thing that's ever happened to football, and someone said the worst thing I'd done was given him the captaincy in the first place.

"And another one went on and apparently said well, the worst thing he did was getting on a plane to sign him in the first place.

"So there was a nice, sarcastic remark.

"Well, you know it wasn't bad for getting somebody on a free transfer then and selling them for £1.2million so, I don't suppose that person will raise his head now and admit to it.

"It was excellent business and Wayne goes with my best wishes and I hope that he certainly has a good time down there.

"I've known him for a lot of years and I'm sorry to see him go."