Belfast Telegraph

Glentoran hero number two sacked by post as Leeman shares fate of Smyth

 

Marching orders: Paul Leeman found out he was axed when he opened a letter from the Glens
Marching orders: Paul Leeman found out he was axed when he opened a letter from the Glens

By Steven Beacom

Paul Leeman has become the latest high profile Glentoran casualty and the second Oval legend this week to be informed by post that he has been sacked.

It is understood that Leeman, considered by supporters to be one of the club's greatest servants, received a letter by recorded delivery yesterday to inform him his contract as coach of the east Belfast outfit had been terminated.

The latest development follows the news that former manager Smyth received notification by registered post on Tuesday that he no longer held a position at The Oval, with the Glens releasing a brief statement late that night to say he had parted company with the club.

In an exclusive interview in Thursday's Belfast Telegraph, Smyth slammed the manner in which Glentoran had handled the situation insisting that it was "shameful" and left him "disgusted".

Lifelong Glens supporter Smyth (49) added: "This doesn't seem like the Glentoran I grew up loving and supporting or the club I was proud to play for. I always saw the club as having class on and off the pitch. I certainly haven't been treated that way."

On the back of Smyth's exit and his explosive interview, Glentoran fans hit out at the club, and with Leeman now exiting in similar fashion there will be even more anger and frustration amongst the support.

It is a year to the day since Smyth and Leeman (41) were appointed to the coaching staff at Glentoran working under then boss Ronnie McFall.

The move was welcomed by fans who revered past players Smyth and Leeman. Smyth had three trophy winning spells as a defender with The Oval outfit and Leeman was even more successful, coming through the ranks and excelling for almost 20 years, claiming 22 trophies including four league titles and four Irish Cups.

An east Belfast boy, it was Leeman's dream to star for the Glens, and he did so with style all over the pitch. In 2011, 'Leeper' joined Crusaders where he continued to shine.

Brought back to Glentoran 12 months ago as a coach, Leeman became assistant boss at The Oval when Smyth took over as manager in January after McFall's departure.

Leeman enjoyed the extra responsibility and working closely with his old team-mate. However, everything changed when Smyth was informed by the club he could no longer be manager as he did not have the coaching qualifications required to gain a European licence.

In a statement released by Glentoran last night, the club insisted that both men had been offered to stay on at the club while they received their coaching licences, only for this offer to be rejected.

"Both Paul and Gary Smyth were offered and encouraged to accept continued employment on the same terms as before while supported by the club in securing their necessary coaching qualifications," read the statement.

"Sadly, they declined to be part of the next stage of the club's development. Everyone within the club deeply regrets their decision."

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