South Shields chairman Geoff Thompson hopes to have a new manager in place in the next few days after taking the ‘agonising’ decision to sack Jon King yesterday.
King was relieved of his duties after five years in charge despite the Mariners having won their last four games to move into third in the Northern League Division One table, level on points with leaders Shildon.
It was a decision Thompson didn’t take lightly, and one he admits the timing of which will surprise people.
But he believes it has been done in the best interests of the club as he continues his bid to push them up towards the Football League.
He said: “It was a difficult decision. Jon has done a fantastic job at the club.
“It’s not hollow praise and I really respect everything he has done for the club.
“But I have had to take a medium to long term view about how the club is going forward and there was never going to be an easy time to make the decision.
“Even though we have started the season well, we want to strengthen the management of the club.
“The timing would have been difficult whenever we had done it.
“I agonised over this decision, I really did.”
Businessman Thompson took over the reins at Shields last year, and has helped transform the club’s fortunes at a rapid rate.
He bought Filtrona Park – now called Mariners Park – and returned the club to the town after two years playing at Peterlee, and immediately set his sights on propelling them up the football pyramid.
The ultimate goal is to play at Conference level, and vast investment on and off the pitch has seen attendances grow to a level where the crowd was 1,409 for Saturday’s 4-2 win over Whitley Bay – more than 500 more than watched Gateshead play just a couple of miles away.
King has been an integral part of the recent success, helping recruit players such as ex-Sunderland star Julio Arca and guiding Shields to the Division Two title last season.
However, Thompson feels he needs a fresh approach on the management side if the club is to keep on progressing up the leagues.
He said: “The ambition of the club remains and I need to make sure we have the right structure managerially.
“People like Jon helped keep the club alive when it was down at Peterlee and I really respect that.
“On a personal level, I have got on well with Jon but we have to strengthen and move forward.”
Shields are believed to be looking to appoint someone to work alongside coach Lee Picton, who has been put in temporary charge of the team ahead of tomorrow night’s clash with Washington.
Former Gateshead boss Ian Bogie has been linked with the job, but the Gazette understands the man Shields want is already connected with a club.