Tony Russell resigned as Ramsgate manager due to miscommunication over small elements of agreements made when he took the job, says chairman James Lawson

Sunday 07th July 2024

RAMSGATE chairman James Lawson has revealed that Tony Russell resigned from his role as manager of the club because of a “miscommunication over small elements of agreements made” when the former Lewes manager took the job.


Ramsgate parted company with Ben Smith on 7 June after failing to win promotion from the Isthmian League South East Division, after finishing runners-up to Cray Valley (Paper Mills) and losing in the play-off semi-finals for the second successive season.

Ramsgate announced the arrival of Russell and his assistant manager Joe Vines on Sunday 9 June, following their departure from Isthmian League Premier Division side Lewes.

Russell, who cut his managerial teeth in the ninth-tier at Erith Town, won the eighth-tier league title at both VCD Athletic and Cray Wanderers.  He spent three years in charge at Lewes and revealed that he had four offers from clubs this summer before deciding that Ramsgate would be his next stop.

The pair were due to take charge of Ramsgate for the first time for their opening pre-season friendly against Dan Scorer’s Kennington on Friday night – but the club were forced to cancel the game at very short notice, without going through official channels to tell their Ashford-based opponents that the game was called off.

Ramsgate published a hasty statement on their social media accounts that “Tony Russell and his management team have left Ramsgate Football Club with immediate effect.

“The application process for this role is now open.  If you are interested in this position, please email

The chairman has finally issued a statement on the club website this lunchtime to explain the reasons behind Russell’s sudden departure after just 26 days in the job.

“We appointed Tony, who has a very impressive managerial record,” said Mr Lawson.

“He quickly moved the majority of our squad on and brought in a number of new and very talented players.  Many of these have been training with us and were scheduled to play on Friday, although had not finalised their deals.

“That brings me onto Friday,” added Mr Lawson.

“The whole club was very excited to see Tony’s time at the club officially start with our friendly against Kennington.

“The standard football club chats and messages were exchanged and it was refreshing to feel genuinely positive on a rare Friday match day.

“At around midday we received a message from Tony resigning from the club. Although unclear at first, this seems to have stemmed from a miscommunication over small elements of agreements made when Tony took the job.

“These types of issues are common in any business and are often solved through communication but that was not to be achieved on this occasion.

“Seb Tidey (director of football) contacted members of the coaching team to find out more information with a very keen eye on the friendly that was just hours away.

“We received confirmation at 16:30 that the management team would not be travelling to the match.

“It is an unfortunate, unplanned situation but one where we now need to focus on the future and our preparations for the season ahead.  Football teaches us to expect and deal with the unexpected.

“From this point onwards you are pretty much caught up. We moved quickly to inform Kennington, the players and officials and to make a statement.

“I want to sincerely apologise to all of you guys (our supporters) and to Kennington for having to cancel the game on Friday evening, but you now have an understanding of the position we were in.”

Reflecting on Smith’s departure after just one season in charge on the Kent coast, Mr Lawson said: “Together we have enjoyed one of our greatest ever seasons. A record points total, our best ever runs in The FA Cup and FA Trophy, whilst our local centre forward (Joe Taylor) broke the 50-goal ceiling.

“Standing in the rain after defeat against Chichester in the play-off semi-final, it seemed impossible that a season with so many highs ended with such a low.

“Nobody felt this more deeply than Ben. A very emotional interview followed where things were said in the heat of extreme disappointment.

“Seb and I met Ben a few days after the game to confirm the new structure of the club that included Ben as first-team manager for next season and Seb as director of football.

“We were all still hurting but Ben, who is usually such a positive larger than life character, still acutely felt the disappointment of not achieving our goals.

“May is one of the busiest months for ambitious people in non-league football. The vast majority of players are non-contracted and available before League forms are issued in June.

“The truth is that myself, Seb and other stakeholders were keen to see us get around the table but Ben needed more time to recover from the play-off semi-final defeat.

“Eventually this resulted in the discussion with Ben where we all agreed that the best way to build a foundation for success this season was with a new manager.”

Ramsgate have not confirmed whom will be in charge of Tuesday night’s home pre-season friendly against Kevin Stevens’ Bearsted.

Mr Lawson added: “The future is very bright for the coming season. The key objective of the club is to sustainably provide entertainment to the local community.

“We have great people including fans, players, coaches and back-room staff, who have become very good at achieving these goals.

“I will provide another update as soon as I have one.”

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