Barnsley Football Club have expressed ‘disappointment’ and ‘shock’ at the decision of head coach Paul Heckingbottom to join derby rivals Leeds United.
The 40-year-old completed the move to Elland Road today, taking with him first team coach Jamie Clapham, head of sports science Nathan Winder and first team performance analyst Alex Bailey.
A statement issued by the club stated they were ‘thoroughly disappointed’ to announce the departure and went on: “The club are shocked at Paul Heckingbottom’s desire to leave, having agreed a new contract with Barnsley FC last week following the completion of the January transfer window, where the board of directors worked tirelessly along with Paul to secure their targets, resulting in a successful window.
“This left the club optimistic in a turnaround in form and a strong end to the 2017/18 campaign as we battle to retain our position in the league.”
Chief executive Gauthier Ganaye added: “Yes, it was unexpected. Yes, it has come during an already complicated period. Yes it will make things more difficult short term. But our club is full of resources and it is certainly not dependent on one man alone. I’m asking everyone from the players, employees and our loyal fans to come together as we have an important game on Saturday.”
The club went on to place on record their thanks and best wishes to Heckingbottom and his coaching team. Having taken on the role of head coach in February 2016 he guided his home-town club to promotion, a Johnstone’s Paint Trophy victory and the highest Sky Bet Championship finish in 20 years.
Until a new head coach is appointed Paul Harsley will take caretaker charge.
Said Ganaye: “Paul Harsley knows the club through and through. He has a sound knowledge of the club as a whole and the team, which makes him the ideal person to lead us toward what is an important game for the town, the club and the fans.”