Published: 19:11, 09 May 2022
| Updated: 08:21, 10 May 2022
Jay Saunders has left Margate to take over as manager of National League South Tonbridge Angels.
Saunders has been in charge at Hartsdown Park since February 2019 but couldn't turn down the opportunity to manage at a higher level again.
“It has been a really tough decision to leave, but after losing two seasons through Covid, this was an opportunity to move up a level that I couldn’t refuse," said Saunders, who also previously played for Margate.
“Everyone knows what I think of Margate. I really enjoyed my playing days there and then my time managing the club, and I leave with a heavy heart."
Saunders will become Tonbridge's first full-time manager.
He takes over a club that finished 16th in national League South and sacked boss Steve McKimm less than a week ago.
Tonbridge chairman Dave Netherstreet said: “We are very pleased to be able to make this announcement.
"We believe that Jay’s experience and achievements are what we need to turn this club into the principal footballing centre in west Kent both at first team level and as a main sporting hub within the community.
"I should add that there was a very strong field of five candidates, three of which directors spoke to at some length but Jay was the standout. I welcome him to our club.”
Saunders led Maidstone to the National League, winning three promotions in four years at the Gallagher Stadium.
Margate finished eighth in the Isthmian Premier under Saunders in 2021/22.
“I have a huge amount of respect for what Jay has done for this football club, not just over these past three years as manager but also as a player before that," said Margate chairman Ricky Owen.
“He will be forever a huge part of this club and will always be welcome back at Hartsdown Park.
"I have had a brilliant working relationship with Jay and have thoroughly enjoyed working with him over the past three seasons."
They wasted little time finding a new boss, appointing Andy Drury within hours of Saunders' departure being confirmed.