Ronnie McFall to stay as manager in brand new Glentoran managerial team
Irish League legend Ronnie McFall will stay on as first team manager at Glentoran as part of a brand new restructured managerial team, while Gary Smyth and Paul Leeman will return to The Oval to join him.
As revealed by Belfast Telegraph digital on Wednesday, Smyth has quit as boss of Bluefin Sport Championship outfit Harland & Wolff Welders to agree a three-year deal with the east Belfast side as assistant manager.
Leeman has also agreed a three-year deal to come aboard and work with Under-20s manager David Lowry and the Glentoran Academy to develop and implement a clear pathway for the young talent at the club.
The former team-mates will work under veteran manager Ronnie McFall, who will remain at the club as manager. His assistant, Kieran Harding, will also remain at the club under the same role.
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Neither Smyth - who rejected a chance to become Glens boss in 2015 - nor Leeman possess a Uefa 'A' Licence or Pro Licence but both plan to gain those qualifications to enable them to manage domestically and in Europe.
However, it is believed that McFall will stay in charge of the team until the pair possess the correct licenses to lead the team, at which point he will move into an advisory role within the club.
"We are very pleased to have been able to put this management team together," said Glentoran chairman Stephen Henderson.
"Ronnie has agreed to lead a new structure as we prepare the ground for a regime we believe can successfully work to return the club to the sustainable competitive position we all expect.
"It was critical to the club to appoint people that had the correct balance of talent, professionalism, fortitude, hunger and a real connection with a fan base that have remained steadfast and loyal through our difficult recent seasons."
Following Gary Haveron's dismissal in February, former Portadown chief McFall agreed to become interim Glens boss while the club searched for a permanent successor but both Dungannon Swifts supremo Rodney McAree and Ards manager Colin Nixon rejected the east Belfast side's advances.
The highly regarded boss will now stay on at The Oval following his impressive spell with the club at the end of last season, with the hope that he can lead them back into the top six of the league.
McFall commented: "When the Chairman raised this possibility a couple of weeks ago to stay on to help stabilise the club I was only too happy to do so and I’m also happy to have Kieran here also.
"As manager one of the big priorities is to provide the best possible grounding for Gary at Premiership level. He’s a Glenman through and through and he’s done the right thing getting a good base of experience before coming back to the club.
"He’s done very well at the Welders and he’s clearly ready to step up to the Premiership and to Glentoran. Opportunities like this don’t come along that often and with a three-year contract signed at this great club we’ll do everything we can to help him bed in this season.
"We’ll all do the groundwork this season that will help take the club on to great things and back to where it was when Gary was a great player here."
Smyth won 12 trophies including two league titles and two Irish Cup triumphs during three spells at Glentoran as a player, while Leeman won four Premiership crowns in his 597 appearances for the Glens.
"I’m delighted to be coming back to Glentoran," Smyth said. "I had five great years at the Welders and was very happy there but this is my club and I had to accept the chance to contribute to a new, positive era here.
"This opportunity nearly came about two and a half years ago. It was the right job at the wrong time for me then but I’ve learned a lot with three more years experience as a manager and when the club approached me I knew it was time to come home.
"I’m very excited and I know it’s been a massive decision for me. After 13 years here, I know the club and what’s expected and I’m ready for the challenge."