Portadown director Peter Hunniford has revealed that it was “a very difficult decision” for the club to part company with manager Matthew Tipton, pointing out that the board at Shamrock Park will move quickly to appoint a successor.
Former player and coach Trevor Williamson will be in charge of the Ports for tonight’s crucial Danske Bank Premiership game at home to Crusaders, but with the mid-Ulster club speaking to potential candidates early this week they are hopeful to have Tipton’s replacement in place before Saturday’s trip to Larne.
Following a disappointing 3-1 defeat at Dungannon Swifts on Saturday, Tipton exited Portadown on Sunday after a meeting with the board, who made it public the same day that they were seeking expressions of interest in the vacant manager’s position.
The Ports are 11th in the table with only two Premiership wins all season, both against bottom side Warrenpoint Town, who trail them by five points. The Shamrock Park outfit are seven points behind Carrick Rangers and nine adrift of Dungannon Swifts.
Should they stay where they are they will enter a play-off with the Championship runners-up. If they finish bottom they will go down to the second tier two years after Tipton made good on his promise, when taking over in 2018, by leading them back to the big time.
It has been quite a month for Portadown with the much publicised transfer of striker Lee Bonis to Larne, the controversial on/off signing of Joe Gorman and now Tipton’s departure.
The Ports have had a number of job enquiries from interested parties and a host of well known names have been linked to the post including ex-Northern Ireland internationals Warren Feeney, Tommy Wright and Jim Magilton, ex-Dungannon Swifts and Coleraine manager Rodney McAree, currently coaching at Glentoran, former Warrenpoint Town manager Stephen McDonnell, one time Portadown player Paul Doolin and ex-Institute manager John Gregg.
Whoever lands the role will have one remit — keeping the club in the top flight.
Director Hunniford, an important figure at Shamrock Park, said: “We will look to speak to potential candidates early this week and we would like to make an appointment with the transfer window still open.”
In a message to the supporters, Hunniford added: “As a board of directors we are doing everything we can and working tirelessly to improve results to keep us in the Premiership.”
He added it was possible that the appointment would be to the end of the season and the successful candidate didn’t need to have prior connections to the club, saying: “The person that we think has the best chance of keeping us up this year will be given the job.
“It is hugely important for Portadown to stay in the Premiership.
“As a club of our size and fan base it is vital we stay in the top division and we need to give ourselves the best chance to do that.
“What we would want from the new manager is to give the players belief, to lift heads and try to climb the table.
“There is still a lot to play for and we believe 10th place, to avoid a play-off, is not out of reach. We are seven points behind that position so if we win a couple of games that gap can close very quickly and we still have to play teams directly above us.”
Tipton signed a five-year contract extension with the Ports last May. It is understood he received a pay-off when leaving the club, but with money in the bank from the Bonis transfer a new manager will have funds to spend on players.
“The window is still open so we will look to bring in new players,” added Hunniford who made it clear that the saga over the Gorman signing, which in the end did not happen, had nothing to do with Tipton leaving.
“There seems to be a lot of players not playing for their clubs at the moment that are not willing to move in this window.
“We are hoping that a new manager coming in will change that and convince some players to make a move to Portadown
Hunniford said: “The board had a close working relationship with Matthew. It is a big regret that results weren’t working out and it was a very difficult decision.
“Results haven’t been going well for some time and we had an open conversation with Matthew on Sunday. At the meeting as discussions continued we thought the decision that was made was the right one for both parties.
“We came to an arrangement over the terms of Matthew leaving which was mutually agreed. We will keep that confidential, but it was amicable.
“Matthew Tipton has played a big part in our revival as a club. He brought us back to the Premiership and was a pleasure to work with. He was very popular with supporters, staff and the board and he and his family will always be welcome at Shamrock Park and of course Matthew’s son George is a player with us.
“Matthew left us in a better place than he found us, is a talented coach and I’m sure he will go on to work well elsewhere.
It’s just unfortunate that results this season have not worked out.
“For us we must now focus on appointing a new manager and staying in the top division.”