Southam United have appointed UEFA-qualified coach Ian Ray as their new first team manager, writes David Hucker.
After a troubled 2015/16 campaign that saw a number of changes in the dugout and ended with chairman Charles Hill overseeing the final four matches, Saints will be hoping that Ray, who is returning to the club where he was youth and reserve team manager, as well as assistant to Quentin Townsend, will bring some much-needed stability.
Following extensive interviews, Hill drew up a shortlist of four candidates, with Ray set to be assisted by players James Keller and Alex Baird who had a brief spell in the managerial hot seat before Hill took over.
“It was a difficult choice from the shortlisted applicants, whose interest I have much appreciated,” said Hill.
“Importantly, we know Ian well and think he and his team can bring the much-needed stability to the side for next season, as we move forward to a more sustainable future in our new ground.”
After taking over in March, Keller and Baird recorded an immediate 2-0 victory against Atherstone Town, the first in nearly six months, but Saints failed to win again, finishing 11 points adrift of safety at the bottom of the table.
Facing relegation, they will not know their fate until the Midland Football League’s annual general meeting on June 20 but, whichever division they play in next season, Ray will need to rebuild the side.
“I am very proud and honoured to be appointed first team manager of Southam United and excited to take on the challenge ahead,” said Ray.
“I’ve been fortunate to have worked with managers who brought success and good times to Banbury Road and want to build a squad of players motivated by the desire to learn, enjoy their football and take great pride in representing the club.
“I look forward to working with James and Alex and will be making further additions to the management team shortly.
“I am grateful to the chairman for giving me this opportunity and cannot wait to get started.”