NATHAN Delfouneso was signed and sealed in the end but it was a close-run thing.

The Bolton striker that had been first identified as a possible target in early December ultimately became the last man through the door with only a few minutes to spare.

But that’s the nature of the January window and deadline day.

Delfouneso followed Luke Hendrie, snapped up earlier in the evening, to make it seven new recruits to the squad – with three going the other way.

“It was one of those deals that we thought was very comfortable,” said chief executive Ryan Sparks. “It was in the pocket at 8pm and the deal looked done.

“But then paperwork, logistics, agents conversing with clubs does slow it down and we had a mad dash to the finish line.

“I think that always happens. Every deadline day I’ve been involved in you sit back after and wonder how a deal went so close to the line.

“Ironically he was one of the more pre-planned January signings that ended up signing last.”

But the transfer window is never an exact science. Bolton’s initial reluctance to sanction the loan when City first enquired changed during the latter stages of the month.

Sparks has got a good relationship with the League One club and the early groundwork meant the Bantams were in pole position to snap him up ahead of other interest.

They included a National League club – another indication of the growing effect on the market from those with deep pockets in non-league. Stockport were also keen on Tom Elliott before his arrival from Salford.

City’s business was not directly impacted by the spending power of the likes of Wrexham and those pumping money in to get promotion into the EFL. But there have been several eyebrow-raising deals that have tilted player values.

It was a point that Sparks had first raised when clubs were voting in the salary cap.

“You see clubs in the National League who are outspending those in Leagues One and Two and making massively ambitious signings.

“When you see the work that Wrexham have done and will continue to do because their National League window is still open, it is very interesting but it does skew things slightly.

“I would argue that there are at least half a dozen clubs spending £1.5 million and the rest in the National League at the moment.

“Looking back to last year, being in the National League for us is unthinkable but it would have been an additional concern had we ever had to put in that plan B because of the teams around us. The spending power of some is greater than some clubs in League One.”

City’s window this time has focused on “increasing the depth and quality” of a squad that are still to convince they can force their way into the promotion picture.

Hendrie apart, the other six January deals were all loans but Sparks stressed Derek Adams’ budget has been increased “significantly”.

“Anyone who would suggest that a loan player is cheaper than a permanent doesn’t understand what they’re talking about.

“With a loan player, you are sometimes getting a higher calibre because you’ve got them for a short period of time.

“A loan is very similar to getting a player on a free transfer. You are still paying wages.

“There are clubs in this division who have got different structures and they are less concerned about sustainability.

“That’s their prerogative. We look at what we can do and try to do.

“People regularly bring up when I said I would not accept mediocrity at this football club. I can assure you we will not.

“That’s been shown in this window. We’ve moved three players and put seven in.

“We felt the squad needed to be deeper with more quality and firepower and I think we’ve put that in there.

“The first half of the season showed that if you have injuries to key players, it creates significant problems for the team.

“Losing Lee Angol, for example, we’ve now added Nathan Delfouneso.

“From our view, it was a very different window to last January’s.

“That was very much a case of getting some people out of the club whose personalities we felt were not good for the club and they weren’t performing on the field anyway.

“We replaced them with better people and better footballers, which helped us achieve our goal.

“This January has obviously been about helping to try and achieve a different goal.

“From our perspective, it was a fairly comfortable final day but it ended up being quite a late one.

“You would never go home and shut it down anyway because it’s a day of opportunity if you are in the market and we were.”