New manager’s overnight u-turn sparks walkout by entire Retford United first team committee

Retford United's Cannon Park
Retford United's Cannon Park

Retford United have been plunged into crisis, after a new manager reversed his decision to join the club, sparking the resignation of the entire first team committee.

A statement released on Tuesday afternoon confirmed that Russ Eagle had changed his mind about taking on the first team management role overnight, and it appears to have been the last straw for the four members of the committee.

The departure of first team chairman Dan Keeton, vice chairman Jon Knight, secretary Annie Knight accountant Graham Slesser has left the Badgers’ NCEL Premier Division status in doubt – although the Supporters Club appear determined to keep the team alive.

A club statement said: “The decision comes after the recent changes in management at the club with the unexpected resignation on Tuesday morning of newly appointed manager Russ Eagle.”

“Eagle had met with the committee on Monday evening and was all set to take charge for the game against Barton Town Old Boys on Wednesday evening with plans of player arrivals and moving the club forward discussed.”

“He contacted the chairman on Tuesday to announce his decision to turn down the opportunity of managing the club.”

“This has left the club in limbo and they have informed the NCEL that they will be unable to fulfil the fixture on Wednesday evening.”

Retford United club chairman Bill Wyles was unable to comment on the future of the first team, having only learned of the committee’s resignation on Tuesday afternoon.

But he confirmed that the club remain in large amounts of debt – estimated in 2012 to be £180,000 – and that he has been advised to leave the club on health grounds.

“As everyone knows I’ve been in ill health, and I’ve been advised to leave the club, which I told the club before Christmas.”

“I have nothing to do with the running of the first team and haven’t for a while for various reasons.”

“I can’t say anything about the future of the first team because I just don’t know, I was told about what’s happening an hour ago.”

“But the club’s debt, although slightly reducing continually, has remained in the same situation for the last three or four years, that hasn’t changed.”

Supporters Club chairman Ian Beech said they would attempt to take charge of the situation to fulfill the NCEL fixtures and avoid a fine from the league.

“We’ve got two choices, we can jack it in because we’ve lost the main four people, or we can try and fulfill our fixtures and then we don’t get a big fine.”

“We’re going to have a meeting and see what’s happened, but we don’t want to see it go down the pan.”

“It’s been chucked on the Supporters Club, we’re the only ones left.”

“I was there with Brian Jackson in 1987 when it started, we’ve a nucleus of volunteers who’ve chucked money in and worked – we don’t want to lose the club we’ve got.”

Retford United sit 18th in the NCEL Premier, with just 15 points from 24 games.