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Russ O’Neill reflects on “gut-wrenching” exit from Alfreton Town after ten years at the club

Pic: Chris Hyslop

RUSS O’NEILL says his departure from Alfreton Town after ten years was “gut-wrenching” –  as the club look set to announce new investment.

O’Neill originally joined the Reds back in May 2007 from Buxton and served as assistant to Nicky Law as Alfreton enjoyed years of success.

They won the Conference North title in 2010-11 and remained in Non-League’s top flight for four seasons before being relegated on goal difference in 2015.

Two tough seasons have followed back at Step 2 and O’Neill stepped up to take charge of the team in February after Law left for a recruitment role at Premier League side Burnley.

However, O’Neill won’t be staying at the Impact Arena for an 11th year after being told he wasn’t being kept on by chairman Wayne Bradley.

O’Neill says he holds no grudges and praised Bradley’s invaluable input into the club but the offer of fresh investment proved too good to turn down.

The departing boss, who leaves alongside assistant Paul Clayton, told BBC Radio Derby: “It’s absolutely gut-wrenching to leave the club after ten years. It’s been a big part of my life but that’s football and things move on.

“The chairman has been on record for years in saying that he was looking for somebody to come in and either take it over, invest or help him out. Wayne is everything to this football club.

“I think he had the opportunity of some investment to come in. It seems that the investor has said that if they come in, they want to bring their own manager in.

“Wayne called me in for a meeting, explained everything to me and was great about it. He’s decided to take the investment and after ten years maybe it was my time to step aside and let somebody else come in.”

Chairman Bradley added: “It was a tough decision in the end; Russ arrived with Nicky in 2007 and has guided the club to some of its best times in history and has been there during the tough times.

“Russ is Alfreton through and through and he will always be a legend here, I have the greatest respect for him.

“I have actively been looking at investment into the football club and there has been many decisions that have had to be made and relieving Russ of his duties was very hard but we have parted ways on very good terms and I wish him all the best in the future.

“We will make further announcements when appropriate regarding the vacant managerial role amongst other topics. It is important that we move forward positively.”

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