Luke Coleman quits Erith & Belvedere: The club asked me to stay on and manage next season but the budget would be cut in half and some of the off-the-field aspects were reverting back to their old methods before I took over

Wednesday 23rd May 2018

LUKE COLEMAN has explained the reasons why he resigned as Erith & Belvedere's manager today.

The Park View Road outfit finished in fourth-place in the Southern Counties East Football League First Division table last season after being relegated the following season.

The Deres reached the London Senior Trophy Final for the first time but went down to a 3-2 extra time defeat to league rivals Phoenix Sports Reserves when the two sides met at Haringey Borough’s Coles Park ground on 11 April.

Coleman has revealed that Chris Cosgrove was to force his way into his management team as he will be contributing towards the playing budget next season and Coleman said he cannot work in this way.

Cosgrove had a poor managerial record when he was in charge of team affairs during the club’s ill-fated Isthmian League Division One North campaign during the 2013-14 campaign.

The club installed Cosgrove and Martin Ford as joint-managers after Micky Collins quit the club 12 days after winning the Kent League and Cup double as he couldn’t work with a £400 per week playing budget in the Isthmian League, but Ford was sacked by the club on 7 October 2013, promoting his son, coach Joe Ford to resign.

The Deres sat in 13th place in the table at the time of Ford's departure but Cosgrove sent the club back down with a disastrous playing record of suffering 30 defeats in his 34 games in sole charge, conceding a total 137 league goals and finished at the foot of the table.

“I have resigned from Erith & Belvedere because certain things that I expected to happen at the end of the season to move us forward from a relatively good season this year did not happen,” said Coleman, 29.

“At the last game of the season I expected to have a meeting confirming that the club were looking to build on this year and challenge for promotion next season but the conversation was effectively the opposite!

“The club asked me to stay on and manage next season but the budget would be cut in half and some of the off-the-field aspects were reverting back to their old methods before I took over.

“Although it has taken me a while to come to this decision after the meeting, I felt it was important to think about it properly.

“In short, the club had explained at the end of the season that they were low on resources owing to an error within the club, which prevented them from bringing in finance for next year.

“I did not really know what was going on with this as there is never great transparency.

“I do not really understand why the club have run out of money as they have the bar and café during Welling games and also had the cup runs earlier this year but this is not clear even now.

“It was explained that the club required a third party to come in and put money into the club.

“At the time in what capacity the third party came in was unresolved.  However, over the last few weeks it has become clearer that the club require this person to be a part of my management team as the club want the money.

“I get on with this person well but I do not think putting both him and myself in a coercive situation was likely be sustainable.  The club have been down that road before and it did not work out.

“I explained that I was prepared to speak to the players also about the financial situation as I have some players who are loyal and would have stayed regardless with me.

“However, I think the club was adamant they wanted to bring the third party in for the resources. 

“Another manager may be prepared to manage at this cost but I do not feel it was workable for me.

“I think when you manage you need to have the autonomy to make your own decisions on a footballing front and I think this would have gone if I agreed to the terms.

“As a manager I am a firm believer you pick both your players and management team. I have worked all season on trust with my players and I do not think it is fair to ask my players to put faith in me and re-sign if I do not even think the situation is sustainable.

“I also think the situation is in trouble especially if I am not comfortable with it from the start. I could have stayed on and managed until something become available but I do not think that is the right way to approach things as you have to have confidence in what you are doing.

“I do not want to get all the players back pre-season and get them to sign only for two months down the line the situation to get into troubled waters as it is not fair.

“Ultimately, the club have to do what is in their best interests financially above all else. However, in my opinion we have done well this year only finishing behind two well-resourced clubs and Fisher who did very well. We secured the clubs FA Cup status also for next season which guaranteed more money. There have been a number of issues throughout the year off the field which I do not think it worth going into now but I think finishing fourth was an achievement with a completely new squad.

“I certainly think next year would have been a great opportunity to challenge but a club has to be stable in itself to do that.

“Whilst I am disappointed I have had to reach this decision, I want to thank all the people who have given me support this year and also today after I resigned.

“I also want to thank my players and management team who have remained committed and finished the season strongly.

“I do not know what the future now holds whether I will manage or go back and play as I am still only 29. I played the last 8-10 games so I am relatively fit (although I need to be fitter) so I will have to see what conversations I have moving forward. I know either way I am ambitious so hopefully the right opportunity presents itself soon.

“People will form different views but there are some good people at the club who I respect. I would wish the club the best in their future endeavours and hopefully they manage to get themselves back to a decent level.”

Jamie Leggett, who watches many games to find gems for the club, has also decided to leave the club.

“After speaking to Luke Coleman I will be leaving Erith & Belvedere as well,” said Leggett.

“I would like to thank everyone at Erith & Belvedere for everything during the last two seasons and wish you all the best for the future.

“Now I will see what the future holds but it must be enjoyable.”

A club statement said: “Erith & Belvedere would like to announce that Luke Coleman and the club have parted company.

“We would like to wish Luke all the best success in whatever he undertakes and thank him for everything he done last season.

“Erith & Belvedere would like to welcome our new joint-managers Owen Jones and Chris Cosgrove and wish them all the success here at the Deres.

“We would like to thank Jamie Leggett for his dedication he has given to the club over the last couple of seasons and would like to wish him all the very best for the future.”

Jones formed a part of the Sporting Club Thamesmead management team under Lee Hill before Christmas last year before leaving the Bayliss Avenue club.