ASHTON UNITED have hit out at STALYBRIDGE CELTIC over the appointment of Steve Halford and Paul Phillips as their new management team.
Stalybridge approached Ashton’s joint-managers after Liam Watson’s resignation at the weekend, with Celtic having lost every game in the National League North since the opening day.
The two clubs announced their appointment on Friday but the management pair, who have led Ashton to the Evo-Stik Premier play-offs the last three seasons, will remain in charge for the Robins’ FA Cup game at home to Nantwich this Saturday.
Ashton have made an unbeaten start to the season and Phillips has been playing in goal as summer signing Grant Shenton is still recovering from an injury he suffered in pre-season.
Ashton chairman Terry Hollis said: “Steve and Paul have done a fantastic job for us over the past three seasons, the best we have had for many a year, and a period that has helped put Ashton United firmly on the non-league map. It has been a real pleasure to work with both lads and they will always be welcomed with open arms at Ashton United.
“I would like to place on record my disappointment at the way Stalybridge Celtic has conducted the move for our management team, particularly given the fact that I was once associated with the club and know people there very well.
“No contact was received by Ashton United from any Stalybridge Celtic official and it is understood that Stalybridge Celtic wanted Paul and Steve to take over at Bower Fold with immediate effect, leaving Ashton United managerless on the eve of our important FA cup tie, something that Paul and Steve, to their credit, declined to do.”
Stalybridge chairman Rob Gorski said: “We have respected Ashton’s request for Paul to play for them in the FA Cup tomorrow and so he and Steve will join us on Monday.”
Celtic welcome Nuneaton Town tomorrow before hosting a ‘Meet the Managers’ night in the Sponsors Lounge on Monday, starting at 7.30pm.
Gorski added: “I’m proud of the fact that I’ve been able to entice Steve Burr, Jim Harvey and Liam Watson to the club. They are three of the most successful non-league names in the last 25 years.
“But what is more important, in a football world that is changing every year, is to have people that not only have a successful track record, but are also really hungry, on their way up and desperate for success.
“Being honest, there was a ‘name’ who wanted the job and he would have done a fabulous job I am sure. But I – and subsequently the board – was bowled over by the enthusiasm, the passion, desire, hunger and also professionalism, organisation and discipline that Steve and Phillo showed in our various chats.”