MARK MAGUIRE insists Chester are not ‘reliant’ on money generated from the sales of Sam Hughes and James Alabi to boost their budget.

The out-of-contract duo look set to reject the offer of fresh contracts and move up the football pyramid, with  20-year-old defender Hughes attracting interest from a host of  Championship clubs and striker Alabi, 22,  having had contact with clubs in League Two.

Whether transfer fees for the in-demand pair can be agreed between Chester and interested parties is yet to be discussed, but the Blues will be due compensation at tribunal for both players given their respective ages should they leave, with Hughes in particular expected to attract  a fee in the region of £100,000.

Blues’ chief executive Maguire is keen to stress the club’s playing budget does not revolve around successful transfer deals for the duo, and fully accepts he must do everything in his power to 'increase’ Chester’s spending power for the upcoming campaign.

“What we are trying to do is not be too reliant on the money from any sale or set fee for Sam or James,” Maguire said. “There’s lots of conversations going on in the background but at this stage it is more through the players and their agents and the interested clubs.

“What we can expect is to be contacted when we’re getting close to something happening with the two of them, we expect that to be in the coming weeks but we’ll see.

“It’s my job to continue to boost our budget in other ways, with sponsorship deals and with a positive season ticketing campaign which I’m confident will be well received.

“Yes, we didn’t do enough last season. But we’ve identified that and set about putting that right and I am confident we will be able to provide Jon will a more competitive budget for the whole of next season.

“We have to be more competitive in terms of budget. There’s more spending than ever in the division, there’s two big clubs coming down and there’s clubs with money coming up.”

Maguire admits Chester are now entering their ‘busiest’ period of the year in terms of speaking with out-of-contract players, surveying retained lists across the leagues and contacting agents regarding player availability.

The Blues’ chief executive, who formerly worked for Hull City and Stockport County, remains fully committed to establishing a ‘stronger squad’ for McCarthy to work with, a statement echoed by the Blues’ boss last week.

“There’s a huge amount of work going on throughout the club right now,” Maguire continued.

“This is our busiest period. We’re into the phase now where we’ve identified some key players who we believe would be real assets to the football club and could help take us forward. The aim has to be to start next season with a stronger squad and we feel we’re putting plans in place to do so.

“Of course, we’re in that period now for the next few weeks where players will resolve their futures with their clubs or look to move on, then the ball will start rolling again a bit more. We have to be proactive during this period and do the best for Jon and for the football club.

“I’m very happy with the work we’ve put in place so far and we’ve managed to act quickly at the end of last season with the signing of several of last season’s squad and the signing of two key targets in Harry White and Nyal Bell who we identified as players Jon wanted to bring to Chester.

“I’m happy at this stage and Jon is happy and I’ll keep working hard to keep it that way."