Co-owner Roy Price has laughed off suggestions Croydon Athletic bought the Ryman Division One South title this season.

The Rams drew 0-0 with Folkestone Invicta last Tuesday to guarantee them top spot and promotion to the Ryman Premier League for the first time in their history.

Other clubs have pointed to the money ploughed into Croydon by Price's co-owner Mazhar Majeed, but Price insists they barely make it into the top 10 budgets in the league.

"I laugh when people say we bought the title," he said.

"In the game last Tuesday we had three players that have come through our academy and how great is that?

"If you look at our side it is very youthful and that is what we have gone for and that makes us different to other clubs.

"Contrary to what everybody may think, which is fine if they want to gossip, we would say our budget is top 10 but that would be it.

"I know there are clubs that have bigger budgets than us.

"We know what we pay our guys and I think really it's just a bit of bitterness and sour grapes which does happen.

"We will not pay players exorbitant amounts next year either, if you do that you are likely to self-distruct and implode"

Price bought the club in 2007, saving it from extinction following the death of its founder, Keith Tuckey, a year earlier.

He was joined in the summer of 2008 by wealthy businessman Majeed, who missed the Rams' promotion party having been stuck in Dubai by the volcanic ash cloud.

"When I first took over it was to save the club and make sure Croydon has a football club in Ryman Division One South," said Price.

"When you first take over a club you want to survive first and foremost and then we were looking to get in the Ryman Premier and develop and push on from there.

"To be honest it has probably come sooner than expected.

"Internally we didn't expect to win it this year but we are absolutely delighted we did.

"It's good for the borough too to have a side in Croydon being in the Ryman Premier and long may it continue."