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Accrington owner reveals why he sacked long-serving manager John Coleman via WhatsApp

John Coleman was abruptly sacked by Accrington owner Andy Holt last weekend  (Getty Images)
John Coleman was abruptly sacked by Accrington owner Andy Holt last weekend (Getty Images)

Accrington Stanley owner and chairman Andy Holt has revealed he sacked long-serving manager John Coleman and assistant Jimmy Bell by WhatsApp message and then accused them of dividing the club.

Coleman managed Stanley for more than 12 years across two spells, the most recent of which saw him and Bell take charge for nearly a decade prior to a brief statement on Sunday announcing their departure.

Many fans were dismayed by the nature of the dismissal but Holt has now explained his thinking, citing an interview Bell did with Radio Lancashire earlier this season where he expressed a wish for longer contracts for himself and Coleman, as well as poor performances, as the catalyst.

Holt reacted furiously to the interview, declaring the club up for sale, and he said on accringtonstanley.co.uk: “I WhatsApp messaged and texted both John and Jimmy at around 9am telling them of the decision. I also informed them the club would put a statement out soon.

“Both messages to them and that put out by the club may be used against the club, so it had to be simple, straightforward and seemingly cold.

“I have worked with John and Jimmy and most of the time it was great, and fun. They performed badly in our relegation season, I didn’t sack them like every other owner would have.

“They made serious mistakes and despite this, I didn’t want it to end. They went public and divided our fanbase probably forever, an action that I did not deserve, having looked after them extremely well in my time at the club.

“I knew without retraction our relationship was over. Despite having months and months to do this, they didn’t. It was a combination of poor performance and the public disagreements that resulted in the end.

“Their performances led to losses last season of £600,000 followed by this season of £1m. Losses that I have a choice, either fund the club or put administrators in. I chose to fund the losses because I still believe Accrington deserves and desperately needs a great club. But the continued funding of these losses stops at the end of this season.”

Accrington were relegated from League One last season and currently sit 16th in the League Two table. Coach John Doolan was appointed as interim manager following the departures of Coleman and Bell.

Additional reporting by PA