Belfast Telegraph

Glentoran, Smyth and Leeman at impasse

 

Unclear future: Gary Smyth
Unclear future: Gary Smyth

By Steven Beacom

The futures of Gary Smyth and Paul Leeman at Glentoran remain uncertain over a fortnight on from Mick McDermott's arrival as head coach at The Oval.

The Belfast Telegraph revealed last month that Smyth had been informed his final match as boss would be on March 30 against Cliftonville.

Two days later, it is understood a brief meeting took place between Smyth, McDermott and chairman Stephen Henderson.

It was decided then that Smyth, who had taken over as manager from Ronnie McFall in January, would have a week-long break while various options were assessed.

Fellow Glentoran legend Leeman, who was Smyth's assistant, was in the same position. That time has since passed and nothing has been resolved with no contact between the parties since early this month.

Smyth still has more than two years left on his current contract, having initially returned to the club last summer as McFall's No.2.

The situation is being monitored closely by Glentoran fans, many of whom feel former playing heroes Smyth and Leeman have not been treated with the respect they are due.

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McDermott has picked up four points out of six since taking charge and with three league games left, the Glens are favourites to clinch seventh place and qualify for the end-of-season European play-offs.

Glentoran are next in action on Friday night away to Newry before an Easter Tuesday home clash with Warrenpoint.

They will finish an eventful campaign, in which three managers have been in the dug-out, on April 27 against Institute at The Oval.

Smyth did not have the necessary coaching badges to manage the Glens in Europe whereas with McDermott starting his Pro Licence next month he will have the qualifications to do so.

McDermott is also a key figure in the proposed takeover of the club from British-based entrepreneur Ali Shams Mohammad Pour, who hails from Iranian descent.

It promises to bring millions in investment on and off the pitch to the east Belfast outfit, though the deal has to be ratified by Glentoran shareholders at an upcoming EGM.

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