Sheppey United have decided to change their manager - with the new season just days away.
The Ites head to Athletic Newham on Saturday in the FA Cup but preparations at Holm Park have been far from ideal. A new management structure sees Jack Midson taking over the team as player-manager and Ernie Batten switching to director of football.
Batten led Sheppey to an unprecedented four trophies last season as manager, including the Southern Counties East Premier Division title. He guided them from step six to four during his time in charge.
Plans for the 2022/23 campaign were rocked over the weekend, however, when their final friendly match was cancelled and assistant manager Marcel Nimani walked out saying a “recent development…did not represent my views.”
Chairman Matt Smith expressed his disappointment at losing Nimani and described it as a “sad day for everyone at the football club” but the club have been quick to get a new structure in place.
Sheppey’s league campaign starts a week after this Saturday’s FA Cup preliminary round match against Athletic Newham. The Ites kick-off their Isthmian South East campaign at home to Chichester City on Saturday, August 13.
Batten said that “now was the right time” to move into the boardroom, saying: “I have thoroughly enjoyed my time as first-team manager and hopefully like me you have enjoyed the journey over this past six years, with a few trophies thrown in along the way.
“I will support the new manager as he comes into this fantastic club. I have mixed emotions about this move and while it's needed to enable me to dedicate more time to my personal life I am also excited about being involved in the development of our very own overarching football plan for the future of Sheppey United, from youth to first-team.”
Smith said he was “lost for superlatives” to describe Batten, adding that “his vast experience of non-league football has enabled this club to fulfil its ambition and beyond.”
He added: “Ernie should be given the keys to the island for the trophy haul he netted last season but alas he has decided that the time is now right for him to join me in the boardroom as our director of football.”
Midson spent much of last season injured but helped the coaching staff from the touchline and will continue playing as Sheppey move to a new era.
On the new appointment, Smith said: “I feel confident that Jack will create his own memories for us all at the club.”
Midson will put his own coaching team together ahead of the new season.