Big-earner Hughes left Meadow Lane for Port Vale just 24 hours before chairman Ray Trew revealed the Magpies are having to make cuts to claw back a £70,000 overspend on wages or risk sanctions from the Football League.
However, Curle says the two events are not connected and that Hughes wanted to go because he was not going to be offered a new contract at the end of the season.,
"He said he wanted to leave and he went with our best wishes because he has been a fantastic servant to the club," Curle told the Nottingham Post.
"When a player makes their mind up they want to go you have got to let them go. It's very difficult to sit there and say `no' you've got to stay. If it had been a 24-year-old striker that was scoring a lot of goals it would have been different, but Lee is 36.
"It was not a financial situation. It was purely based on Lee wanting to make a career move."
Hughes' exit leaves Yoann Arquin and Enoch Showunmi as the only recognised strikers at Meadow Lane until Curle can bolster his attacking options.
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