Cash-hit Stranraer let captain Steven Bell join Ayr United

Steven Bell in action for Stranraer
Steven Bell says he joined Ayr despite rival interest

Stranraer captain Steven Bell has been transferred to League One rivals Ayr United as the Stair Park club continue to shed players amid financial woes.

The 32-year-old, who has spent five years with the Blues, becomes the fifth player to leave since their chairman announced cost-cutting measures.

Bell told Ayr's website there was interest from other clubs.

"But, after speaking to my new gaffer, I knew this was where I wanted to come," he said.

"Ayr being at the top of the league was a huge factor as I want to win something."

Stranraer had suggested last month that their playing staff take pay cuts, but that was rejected after talks with the PFA Scotland union and the club decided it therefore had to cut the size of their squad.

Bell, who signed for Stranraer from Dunfermline Athletic in 2013, exits days after top scorer Ryan Wallace was sold to League One rivals Arbroath for an undisclosed fee.

Liam Dick joined Championship outfit Dumbarton, fellow defender Tom Lang switched to League Two strugglers Clyde and forward Danny Stoney to Lowland League outfit BSC Glasgow.

Stranraer have slipped to fifth place after suffering three defeats in a row amid the financial turmoil, but manager Stevie Farrell remains philosophical about losing his captain during his first season in charge of the part-time outfit.

"He is an experienced player and goes with our best wishes," he said of Bell on Stranraer's website. "He has been a fantastic servant to the club and the young players will miss him.

Ryan Wallace in action for Albion Rovers
Ryan Wallace, with 10 goals, was Stranraer's top scorer this season

"He is an influential player, but football moves on.

"Stranraer came before any player in the past and will do in the future."

Stranraer chairman Iain Dougan explained last month that the club had been forced to act because of "dwindling crowd numbers" during the season.

Ahead of Saturday's trip to face Queen's Park, Farrell revealed that he has been seeking advice from Jimmy Bone, who was his manager at St Mirren, and Greenock Morton's Jim Duffy about how to cope.

"Hopefully, all that and my own thoughts can ensure that the club survive in League One and come through the other side," he said while revealing that he hoped he could still find replacements during January.

"We are asking for big favours - players would be coming in for nothing.

"We are trying to sell the coaching environment and training field and giving players competitive games."

Farrell was hopeful of extending midfielder Angus Beith's loan spell from Hearts.

However, Stranraer have ditched a plan to bring defender Sam Lidington back from his loan with junior outfit Hurlford United, while goalkeeper Max Currie will also be remaining on loan, to Lowland League Cumbernauld Colts.

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