BARNOLDSWICK Town fans have been left stunned by the sudden departure of manager Matt Barnes.
Barnes, who left by mutual consent last week according to the club, was appointed as joint manager of Prestwich Heys, who are tenth in the First Division North of the North West Counties Football League.
Barnes had guided Barnoldswick into a comfortable mid-table position in the Premier Division, with 14 points from their opening 10 games.
He was a popular figure at the club, both with the players and fans, and he led Town to an 11th placed finish in his debut season in 2018/19.
With people queuing up to wish him well and express their shock at the news, Barnes tweeted: “Wow can only thank everyone for their support, it’s actually been overwhelming. From managers, coaches, chairmen of clubs to opposition players and of course my players, its unreal to have that support, thanks again.”
Barnoldswick’s statement on the departure read: “We would like to take this opportunity of thanking Matt for his services to the club and wish him all the best for the future.”
Town chairman Nigel Hill said: “A new manager will be appointed at some stage, it may well be internal or external, but no appointment has been made at the minute.”
Barnes’ final game was a 2-0 victory over Silsden in the first round of the West Riding County Cup, while caretaker managers Matt Cavanagh and Endrit Shehu took charge of Town’s 5-0 FA Vase win at Abbey Hey last Saturday.
Steeton manager Roy Mason tweeted: “Nothing surprises me in football these days. Matt Barnes has done an amazing job at Barnoldswick Town and their loss will be someone else’s gain - a top bloke and someone who I class a friend. He will not be out of the game for too long.”
And so it proved, as Prestwich manager Jon Lyons brought in Barnes to act with him as joint manager.
Lyons said: “I think now is the perfect time to bring someone in. We got lucky that someone of Matt’s pedigree is available. He’s done a fantastic job at Barnoldswick and previously at Maine Road, so I was very keen to move quickly and speak to him. I have known Matt for a long time and we had a great meeting on Monday night. I believe with Matt on board we can start pushing the club forward and push for promotion.”
Barnes, a former Heys player, said: “I’m absolutely delighted to be coming on board with Jon as joint manager of a club that I have played for and have continued to follow from afar. I have seen the magnificent work that he has put in over the years.
“Jon spoke to me on Saturday and asked me if I would be interested, so we arranged a meeting for Monday night. As soon as we spoke, everything just seemed to fit for both myself and Jon, and I’m sure we will take the club forward and achieve promotion. I have known Jon for 15 or 16 years so I have no doubt everything will work.
“I’m looking forward to meeting all the lads and preparing for Saturday’s Macron Cup tie at home against a tough Winsford (United) side.”