Levi Sutton speaks exclusively to Iron Bru’s Matthew Holt about his time with the Iron – as the 23 year old spills all on contracts, Paul Hurst and that red card against Grimsby back in March.
With just seven weeks until the new football league campaign jumps back into action again, it is no secret that Peter Swann is aiming to redirect the club’s strategy into a more youth-minded set up after last season’s successful introduction of the U23’s.
With many of the experienced players being shown the exit door back in May, many fans (including myself) were baffled to see the name Levi Sutton appear on the released list particularly as he remained one of the few youngsters with a fairly strong football league grounding to his name already.
We can now reveal that a new deal was agreed in principle with Iron chairman Peter Swann just one week before the UK was placed into lockdown – it was merely a matter of ‘dotting the i’s and crossing the t’s’ so to speak.
But fast forward a few weeks and Sutton admits his boyhood club had quickly changed their tune due to the financial implications caused by COVID-19.
“I spoke to the Chairman the week before lockdown and we both agreed on what was what and we tied up the loose ends”, Sutton explained.
“The following week the country goes into full lockdown and things change. Financially, he (Swann) said the club wasn’t in the same position to offer me the same contract we had agreed on and to possibly take a pay cut.
“Unfortunately that was something I wasn’t prepared to do and that was that really”.
Just weeks later, Levi had penned a two-year deal at fellow League Two side Bradford City meaning the central midfielder would again be reunited with ex-Iron boss, Stuart McCall.
“As soon as Stuart had seen Scunthorpe’s retained list and noticed my name wasn’t on there he contacted me and admitted he was surprised.”
“I obviously had his phone number from when he was Scunthorpe manager and we had a chat.
“It was nothing to do with contracts at first. We used to speak regularly every weekend really and he would just check in on me.
“We would talk and chat how things were going and just stay in touch. When it came down to figures further down the line, we got things sorted.”
As far as managers go, Sutton has featured under multiple different management systems during his time at the club. Graham Alexander was the man who handed the midfielder his league debut back in 2016 but a man he admits he has the upmost respect for was our most recent departure, Paul Hurst.
‘I had a few personal situations at the start of the season with my Dad passing away, injuries and other stuff involving my family. He helped me through all that. I’ve got nothing but good words to say about the man really.’Levi Sutton on Paul Hurst
Regarding other characters within the Scunthorpe dressing room, local lad Levi admits there were players that didn’t share those same opinions of the ex-Shrewsbury Town boss.
Sutton explained: “Yeah, I could say there were players that didn’t really like him but I think in football at times that’s a given with some people. Not necessarily not liked him, but they didn’t agree with his decisions.”
“Sometimes when you’re a footballer, you think you should be playing but you’re not and that’s probably what it came down to really. At the end of the day as a professional you’ve kind of just got to suck it up and be a professional towards the team.
“The moment you start complaining and moaning you’re not helping or aiding anyone. It’s a part of football, its swings and roundabouts”.
A sad finale for the ex-Bottesford Town youngster was his red card against Grimsby Town back in March, after only being introduced just minutes before hand.
“To sit on the bench and watch us not really compete throughout the game was a really hard one.”
“My intention was to not come and just lift somebody, it was never that at all. It was simply to just come on the pitch and just get near somebody and let them know I was there.”
“I felt like we never got close to them. It’s a derby at the end of the day. They are never going to be pretty games of football as long as you get the victory. I’ve just come onto the pitch disappointed and angry. It hurt me. In all honesty it’s probably not my proudest moment.”
Looking ahead to next season, the 23 year old is looking forward to returning to his former employer as it will give him chance to close the book on a lengthy chapter in his life and allow him to say some all-important goodbyes to those he has grown alongside.
“Obviously, I really didn’t want to leave this way. I’ve been at the club since I was 8 years old. The way I’ve left feels like I’ve just filled a black bin bag with my stuff and been shown the back door. I feel like I owe the club a lot more than that, especially after all these years.
Sutton adds: “To not say a proper goodbye in person to all the backroom staff like the physio and the kit man, and of course it would be nice to say it to the fans too. Hopefully they will be there.”
As the ex Iron right back embarks on a new chapter, it will be one I will personally be keeping close tabs on. As we know, most who have left in recent times have gone on to achieve much higher accolades within the game. Will Levi Sutton be the next name on that list? I guess only time will tell.
You can follow Matty Holt on Twitter @_mattyholt