Robins back to square one as search for new boss begins

Andy Watson took over from Gavin Strachan in October.
Andy Watson took over from Gavin Strachan in October.

The hunt is once again on for a new Ilkeston FC head coach after Andy Watson left the New Manor Ground last week.

Watson’s departure came as a surprise to many who had seen him guide Ilkeston to a 14th place finish in the Evo-Stik Premier League despite a topsy-turvy season that saw a high turnover of players and Watson himself take over from previous head coach Gavin Strachan in October, to whom the 56-year-old had been assistant manager.

But Robins chief executive Nigel Harrop has opted for another change at the top, explaining the reasons behind Watson’s departure as being financial as well as with the aim of re-structuring.

He said: “The club’s ethos will not change and the emphasis will remain on youth as it has from the start, but we are having to move things around in order to be able to bring in two or three experienced players that can help the youngsters on a number of levels and help take the club forward, with those players potentially coming in a coaching capacity too.

“We want to bring quality to the club and when the fans see what we’re trying to do they will understand the decisions we’ve made.

“I’d like to thank Andy for the great job he has done at the club, often in very difficult circumstances. We had to make some tough decisions during the season but it was important to cut our cloth accordingly to safeguard the club’s future, and I can assure fans that, contrary to what some may believe, the club is in absolutely no danger of going out of business and that further announcements regarding its future direction will be made in due course.”

Watson told the Advertiser that he had been informed of the decision following a meeting with Harrop last Wednesday, and whilst he declined to comment further on the details of his departure, he said he is confident the club has been left in good hands in a playing sense.

He said: “There is lots of exciting young talent at Ilkeston that will be a big asset to come in future years.

“I’d like to thank the fans for their support while I was there. They realised I was always trying the best I could for the club in often difficult circumstances and I’m grateful for that.”

Academy boss Steve Welsh took charge of the team for the 4-0 final day defeat at Ramsbottom United on Saturday, although it is unclear as to whether Welsh is in the running to take over the head coach role full-time.

No announcement regarding Watson’s successor had been made as the Advertiser went to press, but keep an eye on www.ilkestonadvertiser.co.uk for any potential further developments.

Meanwhile, three of this season’s playing squad have signed contracts to keep them at the New Manor Ground for another year.

Bermudan strikers David Jones and Tevahn Tyrell have both signed one-year deals, as has attacking player Dexter Atkinson who signed for the club in September.

More players are expected to sign new deals in due course.