Long Melford set to unveil new manager

A NEW management duo will be unveiled at Long Melford FC in the next few days after the shock departure of Jason Maher.

Chairman Alf Woodhouse has revealed a successor has already been selected following the bombshell last Thursday and is just waiting to get his number two in place before an announcement is made.

But it will not be Maher’s deputy Jules Mumford, as the Free Press understands the former Sudbury Athletic manager turned down the post due to work commitments.

Thirty-year-old Maher guided The Villagers to their best season since 2004, with a top 10 First Division finish and a Portman Road Suffolk Senior Cup final appearance despite problems off the field almost resulting in them being consigned to history. Unfiled tax returns and accounts led to the holding company being struck off for 12 months by Companies House before the problem was eventually sorted out, with the owner Lee Harding voicing his fears for their future.

And it was off-the-field problems that Maher cited to leading to his resignation, which he said was made with a heavy heart.

“It was made clear straight away we would have to make budget cuts of some description and then I was told we did not have any budget,” said Maher, who paid tribute to Mumford and first-team coach Danny Shipton.

“I wanted to hold on to three key players and I did not think, due to problems off the pitch, that I would be able to.

“I had worked really hard getting a good squad together and the way things were going, I did not think we could be competitive.

“It breaks my heart to say that as I love the club deeply, but I am an ambitious manager.”

Woodhouse said he was not surprised by Maher’s resignation due to the non-driver having to make a rail commute by Chelmsford with ‘a lot of stresses’ ongoing, though admitted finances were a factor.

“We did not want him to resign,” he said. “There is no animosity from us and we wish him every success.”

Of the financial backdrop Maher cited he said: “That is part of it. As at many other clubs, we are struggling to keep our heads about water.

“It is not strictly true to say there is no budget as expenses will be paid on away games.”

He added: “I cannot hide the fact we had to drastically reduce our outgoings from last season but next season we will be on a more even keel.”