MORTON boss Dougie Imrie is facing up to a major rebuilding job at Cappielow after three of his key players decided to quit the club - with the clock ticking down on offers made to six others.

Imrie's attempts to keep talisman George Oakley at Sinclair Street appear to be over after other clubs pursuing him blew Ton's new contract offer out of the water.

The Tele revealed last week how Partick Thistle had made a move for the hitman and it's since been reported that Ayr United boss Scott Brown wants him too.

It's believed that both clubs are in a position to offer Oakley much more money than Ton can, despite a significant budget boost for the manager this summer.

The Tele understands that Oakley received the highest contract offer the club has made in recent years, only for it to be turned down by the Englishman in the face of other interest.

Imrie had told the Tele in the closing stages of the league campaign that the Cappielow top brass were preparing to loosen the purse strings after he sealed back to back fifth place finishes in his first two full seasons in charge of the club.

This in turn had seen him able to offer improved contracts, which he'd said were 'some of the best he'd seen' during his time at the club.

But top scorer Robbie Muirhead has already left for Livingston and Robbie Crawford snubbed a new deal too, with a return to Partick in the works.

The loss of talent comes as budgets continue to rise in the second tier, with Livingston coming down into the league after six years in the top flight and a well-backed Falkirk side coming up from League One to replace Arbroath.

The Tele understands that despite the increase in Imrie's budget, he will still be operating with one of the lowest wage structures in the division.

Ton meanwhile remain locked in talks with the likes of Darragh O'Connor, Kirk Broadfoot, Lewis Strapp, captain Grant Gillespie, Michael Garrity and Cameron Blues and more departures could yet follow.

The Tele understands that the players in question have been given a deadline of the end of this week to come back with their responses.

Imrie already has one new face arriving, in the shape of 26-goal man Jordan Davies, whose two-year contract begins at the start of June after leaving Welsh Cup winners Connah's Quay Nomads.

But now he will have to launch a search for more new recruits as he tries to put a new squad together amid the exodus.