PHIL Parkinson has significantly strengthened his Altrincham squad for another promotion push next season after capturing midfield powerhouse Conor Branson from Bradford (Park Avenue).

The Alty boss won a three-way battle for 27-year old Pontefract-born Branson and signed him for an undisclosed fee in time for the start of the Robins' pre-season build-up early next month.

It is understood two other clubs – one in the National League North, the other in the National League top tier – were vying for Branson's signature, but the free-flowing football favoured by Parkinson proved decisive in winning the day for Alty.

Branson's arrival, following an impressive return of 12 goals from a deep-lying role last season, should go at least some way towards offsetting the major blow of losing crowd favourite James Poole, who is heading to Australia to take up a Melbourne-based coaching opportunity with Manchester City.

"Stockport won the title and Chorley went up via the play-offs, but, for me, Alty were the best footballing side in the league last season," said Branson, who lives in Wakefield and works in Leeds for a sports technology company.

"It was really flattering that there was so much interest from other clubs, and a fee was involved, but after speaking to Phil and reflecting on Alty's style of play, it just seemed the right fit for me.

"I played against Alty four times for Bradford last season, and I was impressed with how positive they were on each occasion.

"I know Steven Drench, from his Bradford days, and I've also spoken to Luca Havern and Nicky Clee, and they all said what a great club it is, with a great set of fans.

"The aim now is to get over the line, after last season's promotion near-miss, and I'll be doing everything I can to help make it happen.

"The defensive midfield role suits me best, but I like to get forward into the opposition box whenever I get licence to – I'll be chipping in with a few goals, if I can."