Accrington Stanley chairman posts bizarre 1,105-word statement after sacking long-serving manager via WHATSAPP

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Accrington Stanley chairman posts bizarre 1,105-word statement after sacking long-serving manager via WHATSAPP
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Accrington Stanley chairman Andy Holt has released a 1,105 word statement defending his decision to sack long-serving boss John Coleman and his assistant Jimmy Bell.

Coleman had a long and successful tenure at Crown Ground, managing them for 1,098 games over almost 25 years across two spells.

Earlier this week, though, the 61-year-old was abruptly fired by Holt, along with his assistant Bell, in an unconventional way - via WhatsApp.

This decision and the way it was communicated caused a stir in the football world, with many criticising Holt for his lack of professionalism.

Many fans were dismayed by the nature of the dismissal, despite Accrington's performances this season having them sitting 16th in League Two.

Holt, who became owner of Accrington in 2015, later defended his decision through a lengthy statement on the club's website.

An update from me... regarding the termination of John Coleman's and Jimmy Bell's contracts.

I am now in a position to share some basic detail behind my decision to not renew the contracts.


A. Last year the recruitment of players was dreadful. Many performances were very poor, injuries were many. We were relegated from League One. During the season Jimmy often complained too many players were being engaged with not enough quality.

It undermined my faith in them.

B. At the end of last season, I had a meeting with John to discuss this current season. Whilst I was in that meeting, Jimmy was ringing another director saying "with that team we're being relegated again" or words to that effect.

C. The Board's position was that they should be terminated. Their performance merited it.

D. It was discussed and suggested that they deserved credit for past historic great work at the club, they deserved a last chance.

E. This was communicated to them verbally in a meeting involving me, John, Jimmy, and Dave.

The crux of it was to give them a chance. We'd review around Christmas 2023 and if we looked safe, we would extend their contracts for another season. The extension would be for one season only but could be repeated indefinitely if we got back to our normal performances.

F. Despite this Jimmy went on Radio Lancashire telling the world how it was "their club, they built it and that they wanted three or four-year contracts."

This was deliberate and in my mind was done for one or more of the following reasons:

G. The calling me out in Andy Bayes' interview was GUARANTEED to divide our club. I communicated this to our managers at the time and told them they had "killed me" as owner of the club. A selection of fans would demand I give longer unsustainable contracts, others would say I should have terminated earlier.

This divide has been evident from that day to this. Even after the termination of contracts the fan base is still divided and more so than ever.

They had to retract the statement giving a united platform for owner and manager to sing from the same hymn sheet.

They refused to do so. Despite months passing by with opportunities daily to right this issue, it never came.


It has been said that I got up "out of the wrong side of the bed and sacked them."

This was not true. The last day in February this year was always pencilled in as a back stop date. The reason is that many players are running out of contract, and the manager, whether it be John or Jimmy or another, wouldn't have had time to set up for next season.

Around 10 days before the final day I spoke at length with Coley, it was still a condition that a statement had to be put out allowing me to rebuild a united front for the club. It NEVER came.


I WhatsApp messaged and texted both John and Jimmy at around 9am telling them of the decision. I also informed them the club would put a statement out soon.

The reason it was put to them in this way is that, had I discussed (again) with them a mixed message could have resulted. Both messages to them and that put out by the club may be used against the club, so it had to be simple, straight forward and seemingly cold.

Finally, MY comment.

I have worked with John and Jimmy and most of the time it was great, and fun.

They performed badly in our relegation season, I didn't sack them like EVERY OTHER OWNER would have.

They made serious mistakes and despite this I didn't want it to end. They went public and divided our fan base probably forever, an action that I did NOT deserve, having looked after them extremely well in my time at the club.

I knew without retraction our relationship was over. Despite having months and months to do this, they didn't.

It was a combination of poor performance and the public disagreements that resulted in the end.

Their performances led to losses last season of £600,000 followed by this season of £1,000,000. Losses that I have a choice, either fund the club or put administrators in.

I chose to fund the losses because I still believe Accrington deserves and desperately need a great club.

But the continued funding of these losses stops at the end of this season.

I lost confidence in them after nearly two full seasons of poor performances.

I lost faith in them because they seemed to lose the fire in their belly's.

I lost trust in them because they divided our fan base, when they knew full well I was doing my upmost to work through the problems. I am off Twitter for now because I knew how a good number of fans would feel. I'm not getting into a slanging match.

For me to continue to work with the club I have to be happy. Why would I put money into a club to be unhappy?

Now then.

All the above DOES NOT take away from their achievements at the club. I fully respect their record, I understand fans that have been around them for decades, have lost their heroes.

There should be proper recognition of their achievements. Coley's bar was called Coley's bar for a reason. It will remain Coley's bar.

I believe they are good at what they do and deserve decent jobs going forward.

I passionately believe I have to take the club down another stable, long-term path, my job is to create a club that lasts long after my time or that of any manger or player.

I am still doing my best.

I knew this was coming. I offered the club for sale without receiving a single bid.

I'm trapped between funding the club or putting it into administration.

I chose to continue funding it ONLY if it can be put on a stable path, an outcome I know is achievable.

That's what is happening and where I stand.

Good morning, BTW.

Coach John Doolan was appointed as interim manager following the departures of Coleman and Bell, and will lead the side for the first time against Bradford City on Saturday.

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