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Archived News from December 2019

20th December 2019 19:33

12.10 pm Tues 17 December 2019

Bristol Rovers LIVE: Press conference updates as Gas CEO addresses Graham Coughlan situation


Bristol Rovers CEO Martyn Starnes on GC and past few days:

"First contact we had with Mansfield was last Wednesday. I had a call from their chairman requesting to speak to Graham. Permission was refused. I told Graham of our refusal. Saturday morning I received an email from the Mansfield CEO asking again for permission to speak to Graham.

"Clearly I wasn't going to discuss that with him before the match in the afternoon. I was anticipating having a conversation on Monday to see what he wanted to do. To me there was a probability of Graham wanting to go to Mansfield (because of the second approach).

“I spoke to Graham and his agent after the game and agreed he could speak to them.”

"It wasn’t my impression on Wednesday that he wanted to speak to them.

"The driver for Graham has been, he’s been away from his family during the working week for ten years now. It must be grinding for himto go back on a Sat night to Sheffield where's he's got a young family and to only see them for a very short period of the week. I do understand why the opportunity to join a club much closer to home is attractive to him.

"My reaction after the game on Saturday was one of shock really. Shock and disappointment that someone had gone about it in the way that he did. He has in fairness apologised to me.

"Yes he has departed and we expect him to be announced at Mansfield later today.

"I’m sure as a family man he has found it difficult. He has three young children, two of school age. Sometimes he has been at Rovers at three weeks in a row without going home to them. I’ve got nothing but praise for the job Graham has done. I don’t think it (the move to Mansfield) is a slight on Bristol Rovers at all.

"Opportunities to work at clubs near where you live don’t come up very often. It’s sort of a bird in the hand. If you've got the opportunity to work close to home, I think that's a powerful driver.

"It's a possibility that Joe Dunne will leave to join Graham. I wouldn't rule that out. That remains to be seen.


Earlier story:

Mon 16 Dec 6.45pm
BBC East Midlands Today TV news :

The favourite to be the new manager at Mansfield Town is Graham Coughlan. But former Notts manager Kevin Nolan and Paul Ince are also in the frame


Earlier stories:

Statement: Graham Coughlan
bristolrovers.co.uk, 11.30 am Mon 16 December 2019

The Club can confirm that it has reluctantly given permission for Manager Graham Coughlan to speak to Mansfield Town about the vacant position at the One Call Stadium.

Two approaches were made last week by the Sky Bet League Two side requesting permission to speak with Graham Coughlan about the manager's position, both were rejected by the club.

However, it became apparent that the interest from Mansfield was significant and due to the fact that Graham had been working away from his family home in Sheffield for the last decade, it was evident that he would welcome the opportunity to work closer to his family and we therefore reluctantly granted permission to Mansfield to discuss terms.


Joe Dunne led training this morning to prepare the squad for Tuesday's Emirates FA Cup replay at Home Park and he will continue to be assisted by Kevin Maher, Adrian Tucker and Lee Mansell.


BristolLive Exclusive: Graham Coughlan to leave Bristol Rovers and take job at League Two Mansfield Town
The Rovers manager is ready to sensationally leave the Gas on his one-year anniversary
bristolpost.co.uk, By James Piercy, Sports Editor, 8pm Sat 14 DEC 2019

Graham Coughlan has informed the Bristol Rovers players he's leaving the club and is ready to take a job at League Two Mansfield Town, Bristol Live understands.

Just a few minutes after a brilliant 2-1 victory over Ipswich Town which lifted the Gas into fourth in League One, Coughlan astonishingly revealed he is considering his future at Rovers and will make a decision on Sunday morning.

Coughlan has informed the squad he has been offered a job at a club closer to his home in Sheffield and will take assistant manager Joe Dunne with him, just 12 months after replacing Darrell Clarke at the Memorial Stadium.

Bristol Live has learned that club is Mansfield who are placed 18th in League Two but crucially are just 45 minutes from Sheffield with The Stags having dismissed John Dempster on Saturday night within a few hours of Coughlan's startling admission.

The Dubliner implied during his remarkable post-match press conference at Portman Road that a lack of financial resources and a feeling he has taken the club as far as he can go have made him question is future.


And while that is true to a point, the fact he has been effectively commuting from Bristol to Sheffield, where his family are based, has begun to take its toll on his overall happiness.

Coughlan shares a flat with Dunne in Bristol city centre and while he tries to maintain a settled home life by travelling back to Yorkshire at least once a fortnight, the pressures of the job and the relentless fixture schedule make it incredibly difficult.

Coughlan met with club president Wael Al-Qadi in Bristol earlier this month, a day after the penalty shootout win over Leyton Orient in the EFL Trophy, where the January transfer window was a main topic of conversation.

There is a will within the club of making additions in the New Year and maintaining this unlikely promotion push but the reality is that without players either being sold or higher-earners moved on, the finances simply aren't there due to concerns over the EFL's Profit & Sustainability rules.

That is why Jonson Clarke-Harris contract negotiations have stalled and although the striker's uncertain future has been pin-pointed as to one possible reason for Couglan's impending departure, that is not thought to be the case.

There is interest across the Championship and League One in the 25-year-old but, as it stands, no concrete bids or discussions have been held with the Rovers hierarchy and there is no indication he will definitely be sold in January.

Although pre-season predictions for Rovers ranged from top 10 to even relegation, among some League One commentators, Coughlan's aim was to push up the table and privately he loathed the idea of being content in mid-table.

A major source of frustration for the 45-year-old has been the condition of the club's training ground at Cribbs which he believes is responsible for a number of injuries to key players, in particular the stop-start campaign of Clarke-Harris.

There has been a growing concern that with such a small squad, few resources to improve it as it stands and the daily fear of another individual sustaining an injury, sustaining a promotion push is simply unrealistic.

For Al-Qadi, Coughlan's expected departure and some of the reasons behind it will turn further focus to Dwane Sports' ownership as this manner of this exit has echoes of Darrell Clarke a year ago, albeit with the club in a considerably improved position in the league.

Clarke's tenure came crashing down amid poor results and the manager's own anger at a lack of progress off the field with the stadium and training ground plus his perception he wasn't properly backed in the transfer window.

However, many of the problems that Coughlan has encountered in terms of his squad building have stemmed from over-spending on wages during the Clarke era.

There has been an acknowledgement from within the club that needed to be addressed and has led to excellent work behind the scenes from director of football Tommy Widdrington in building and executing a realistic recruitment strategy.

Al-Qadi has also been encouraged to invest in the academy and it is perhaps symbolic that the squad for the Ipswich win contained seven prospects under the age of 22 in Alfie Kilgour, Rollin Menayese, Michael Kelly, Cam Hargreaves, Lucas Tomlinson, Luca Hoole and Kieran Phillips.

They now represent the future of the club but Al-Qadi has a job on his hands in addressing the present but Graham Coughlan, unfortunately, appears now in the past of Bristol Rovers Football Club.


twitter @bbcbristolsport, 9pm Sat 14 DEC 2019

BBC Radio Bristol understands Bristol Rovers have turned down an initial approach from Mansfield Town to talk to manager Graham Coughlan.


Mansfield Town sack John Dempster with Graham Coughlan set to leave Bristol Rovers
The Gas boss looks set to swap the top of League One for the bottom of League Two in a shock exit
bristolpost.co.uk, By Elliott Jackson, Sports Editor, 8pm Sat 14 DEC 2019

Mansfield Town have sacked manager John Dempster, paving the way for Graham Coughlan to take over as their new boss.

The Bristol Rovers manager plunged his future into doubt on Saturday after admitting he "had a decision to make" over his future despite their 2-1 win away at second-placed Ipswich Town.

Goals from Tyler Smith and Tom Nichols secured three points at Portman Road to lift the Gas up to fourth in the League One table before Coughlan revealed that he was considering his future.

Speaking to BristolLive, Coughlan said: "I need to go home and see my wife and kids this evening and spend some time with them," Coughlan said, with his family based in Sheffield.


"I've got a decision to make in my own life and my own career and where I'm going. I'm going to make that decision tonight when I go home.

"I don't know where I can take this football club. I'm going to spend this evening with my wife and kids and see which way I wake up in the morning."


'Well that killed the mood' - Bristol Rovers fans react to Graham Coughlan's startling claims over his future
The Dubliner has admitted he is considering walking away from the Mem
bristolpost.co.uk, By James Piercy, Sports Editor, 6pm Sat 14 DEC 2019

In the wake of arguably his finest victory since taking charge of Bristol Rovers 12 months ago, Graham Coughlan cast an emotional figure: pride at what his team had achieved in beating Ipswich Town but also frustration and sadness at what could lie ahead for him at the football club.

Having mentioned the need for investment prior to the 2-1 victory at Portman Road , Coughlan further expanded on it in his post-match press conference, confessing he's considering his future and implying that he feels he's taken Bristol Rovers as far as he can.

With the Gas fourth in League One and the January transfer window just two weeks away, the Dubliner drew attention to his bench which was stocked full of academy players as an example of the need for investment next month.


However, there was also mention of his family in Sheffield with the 45-year-old having lived away from his wife and children from a year now and the strain perhaps beginning to tell.

Coughlan has at times struggled at times to endear himself to Gasheads but over the last month there has been a realisation of the excellent job he is doing in not just making a small and unfunded squad competitive but also, remarkably, keeping them in the promotion mix.

The tide certainly appears to be turning in terms of his popularity with fans taking to social media to voice their concern and confusion over this strange turn of events, less an hour of the elation of victory.


director Steve Hymas, posting on Mansfield Town FC Followers facebook group, Sun 15 Dec 2019:

comment from fan
Please the owners get the next appointment right - nathan jones

Steven Hymas
He don’t want the job mate .sorry .

question from fan

Steven Hymas
don’t want it mate .sorry

Steven Hymas
We just want to see us winning games mate .A lot of the names banded about don’t want to come for various reasons. Location and not prepared to drop to league 2 are the main ones. Onwards and upwards though .We have swung the axe.



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