Belfast Telegraph

Death threat Oldham Athletic boss Darren Kelly remains defiant

I’ll not quit, says Oldham manager hit by backlash over McGuinness tweet

By Stuart McKinley

Former Portadown and Derry City star Darren Kelly says he won't be put off his new job as manager of Oldham Athletic, despite receiving death threats within a matter of days of being appointed.

Kelly was named as boss of the English League One club last week, but that was quickly overshadowed after a Twitter message he sent to Sinn Fein Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness caused a storm among supporters.

The offending Tweet said: 'My mums been at me all week saying 'did Martin tweeter that pic of me and him lol #legend.'

It is the use of the word legend that has angered Oldham fans, some of whom have demanded that the club sack Londonderry-born Kelly, who doesn't officially take over as manager until June 1. A letter was handed into Oldham's Stadium on Monday, which contained a threat that Kelly would be shot unless he was sacked.

It is understood that threats were also made to the club's board as well as chairman Simon Corney.

"It's obviously not a nice situation for me, my family and the club," said Mr Kelly.

"I've been given a great opportunity to manage a great football club and I just want to get on with the job.

"I have already done a lot of work behind the scenes and had meetings with the club. Outside of that I can't say a word.

"The club has released a statement and the matter is in the hands of the police.

"I have been told by the police that I can't comment on the matter as it is now the subject of a criminal investigation.

"I am into politics in no way. These things have come up, it's been hurtful and I want to put it to bed because it's absolute nonsense."

Two men were arrested by Greater Manchester Police on Tuesday and a third man was arrested on Friday in connection with the threats to 35-year-old Mr Kelly.

His uncle Michael Kelly was one of 13 civil rights supporters shot dead by the Parachute Regiment in Derry on Bloody Sunday in 1972.

He has strenuously denied that he is an IRA supporter.

A Facebook account calling for Mr Kelly to be sacked was set up by supporters and Oldham have offered to refund unhappy fans who have already paid for their season tickets.

Mr Kelly, who played for Portadown in the Irish League inbetween spells with his hometown club Derry City, has lived in England for the last eight years and after finishing playing professionally he worked as a community coach at York City before taking a job with Sunderland's Academy earlier this year.

He began his career at Derry City before moving to English Football League side Carlisle United following financial difficulties at The Brandywell.

He spent two seasons with the club, which included an appearance in the 2003 Football League Trophy Final, after which he was released and returned to Northern Ireland with Portadown, where he captained the side. He was capped for Northern Ireland 11 times.

His appointment at Oldham came as something of a surprise in the footballing world as he has no managerial experience.

Belfast Telegraph


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