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Ex-Lancaster City boss says relationship with chairman was 'beyond repair'

Mark Fell

The former manager of Lancaster City FC has revealed the reasons why he resigned from the Dolly Blues.

Mark Fell said he was "gutted to have resigned" and that it had been "an absolute privilege to serve this club"  - but also said that he hadn't been paid for more than a year and that a promised new deal had been withdrawn.

In a statement posted on his social media pages following his departure from the Dolly Blues on Wednesday, Mr Fell said: "Unfortunately my relationship with the current chairman (Andy Baker) is beyond repair and my position is therefore untenable."

"Six weeks ago I was offered a position at another club which I turned down, at that point Lancaster agreed a new deal for me, bearing in mind I haven't been paid by the club for over a year," he said.

"Fast forward six weeks and the chairman informed me that the deal agreed was no longer affordable.

"This is not about money, the most I ever earned at Lancaster was £100 a week and I wasn't paid that for at least half the time I was manager there.

"It was about the principle.

"What I can say is I've given absolutely everything to the role and I can proudly say the club, from a football position, is in a better place than when I took over and I leave an outstanding group of players.

"There are many amazing people at Lancaster, my thanks firstly to Graham Lancashire, Mark Thornley, Rob Henry, Craig Rutherford, Xav, Paul, Rocky and Dom for their efforts, expertise and support, you deserved much better recognition than you received.

"The players - you are without doubt the best group I've worked with and I'm sorry we can't go on to try and finish what we started. The last thing I want to do is walk away from these lads, you are a credit to yourselves and families as footballers and men. I'm not ashamed to say I cried all the way through our phone conversations this morning. I hope we get to work together again in your careers.

"The media team are truly excellent, Maddie, Craig, David and the gang are the best in the business. The acceleration of media coverage is down to their drive, desire and love for the club. And not to forget Alex who started the upward curve.

"Thanks to Stuart Houghton, David Dawson and Dave Evans for giving me the opportunity to manage the club and the volunteers and staff. My four secretaries - Graham, Charlotte, Sarah and Andrew S keep/kept the place ticking over superbly. Baz and Ray who provided amazing statistical analysis for me, Pam for shouting at me when we were rubbish, Keith Winder for his unwavering support for the supporters' club. There are literally too many to mention and apologies to those I've forgotten.

"Finally, the fans at Lancaster have been amazing with me. I cannot thank you enough, you have made that club a home for me and somewhere I will always love. Keep supporting the boys and hopefully before too long I'll pop along to stand in the shed end alongside you as a fan. I can promise you I always gave you everything I had."

Fell also said he left with his "head held high and proud of the work I've done" and was "more motivated than ever and looking forward to my next challenge in the game".

Posting on a Lancaster City Facebook thread about Mr Fell's departure, chairman Andy Baker said there were "numerous inaccuracies" in Mr Fell's statement and the club would "issue a response in due course".

Mr Fell replied that there was "no inaccuracy" in his statement and he'd be "happy to publish the emails and text messages".

Beyond Radio has contacted Mr Baker for comment.

Meanwhile, club captain Andrew Teague will take charge of first team duties on an interim basis whilst the club works on a permanent management appointment, assisted by Simon Grand, City has announced. 

Andrew Teague is pictured below, image by Michael Porter Photography.

It was announced on Wednesday that Fell and his coaching team Graham Lancashire, Craig Rutherford and Mark Thornley would be leaving the club.

Fell joined the club in October 2018 after leaving Ramsbottom United, replacing Phil Brown.

During his time in charge, Lancaster have been a stable and solid outfit in the NPL Premier Division and have exceeded expectations, given they have one of the lowest budgets in the division.

They won the 2019/20 Lancashire FA Challenge Trophy when the final, delayed due to Covid, was eventually played in 2021. 

A spokesperson for Lancaster City said on Wednesday: “Lancaster City FC today confirmed it has parted ways with manager Mark Fell.

“The club’s board of directors have accepted Mark’s decision to leave the club and are now looking for a new manager to lead the team.” 

Mr Baker said: “Mark has had a great run as a manager of this club, providing stability in the league, securing a Lancashire FA Challenge Trophy win and overseeing a difficult period for the club during Covid.

“We thank Mark for his service and wish him our best for the future. 

“We would also like to put on record our thanks to Graham, Craig and Mark Thornley for their work and professionalism during their time at the club and again, we wish them all our best and hopefully see them at the Giant Axe in the future.

“As a board, we’re looking to professionalise every part of our club. 

“Over the last 18 months, we've increased sponsorship income, gate numbers and bar spend, and that’s put us in a stronger financial position but not without significant financial challenges ahead. 

“We want to bring investment into the club and take us from strength-to-strength. 

“We look forward to bringing on a new management team to work with the board on our vision and ambition.”

The club said that a statement on future management will be released in due course.

Lancaster currently sit 13th in the NPL Premier Division and play Bradford (Park Avenue) at home on Saturday.

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