Athlone Town are searching for a new manager after the club parted company with Terry Butler.
A post on the clubs Facebook page on Saturday confirmed that Butler had left the club by 'mutual consent' after 18 months in charge. The statement continued by thanking the manager and his assistants, Mitch Whitty and Aaron Shanahan for the time, effort and commitment they had given to improving the senior team. They were also wished all the best for the future.
The club also stated that they should be in a position to announce the new management team very shortly. Once the position has been filled, the new manager will expand on the future plans for the First Division outfit. In a pointer at the possible future direction of the team, Athlone Town concluded by stating that, having completed the installation of their new astro turf pitch earlier this year, they would now look at consolidating all football activity at the stadium in Lissywollen.
The announcement of Butler’s departure was a surprise as it was felt that the Dubliner would be once more in charge for the 2020 season. Butler had taken over as boss when Aaron Callaghan departed but had little time to turn things around following his appointment. A better campaign followed in 2019 with an early season run of good results seeing the team well away from the bottom of the table. A slump quickly set in but the team were certainly much more competitive than heretofore.
The season had started with a great win against Dundalk at Oriel Park in the Leinster Senior Cup and a run to the final followed. Victory over UCD and a walkover from Bohemians pitted the Town against St Patricks Athletic in the decider. The prolonged season was not to end with silverware however as the young Saints outfit lifted the cup in Richmond Park. Butler would no doubt have hoped to build on this improved showing as he assembled his squad.
The new campaign is only two months away and with training normally getting underway early in January, the new manager will have it all to do. The recent managerial merry go round at the club has been alarming with the casualties in double figures over the past seven years. The most successful during this period was undoubtedly Roddy Collins who led the club into the Premier Division after many years in the wilderness.
Speculation will now mount as to who will be in charge when competitive action resumes in February. It is understood that an already small playing budget is to be further cut leaving the new man with limited options when it comes to signing players.
It looks most unlikely in the circumstances then that a 'big name' manager such as Collins will arrive. There are a number of names already being linked with the vacant position with both Tommy Hewitt and Gordon Brett rumoured to be possible promotions from the ranks. Until a final statement is made by the club, anything is pure speculation.