The move for Yates ends a long relationship with the club spreading just under fifteen years after first joining us as a player from Doncaster Rovers in June 1994. He left us to play for local rivals Cheltenham in January 1999 but returned following a successful spell there, in February 2004, to captain us before becoming our manager in January 2006. Neil joined him soon after.
When Martin Allen was relieved of his duties at Whaddon Rd a few months back it was widely expected that Yates, being a former fans favourite, would be in the frame for the top job there. Their former manager, Steve Cotterill, who took them into the League in 2001 had already turned down the job and it was a split between Jim Harvey and Yates in the end with Mark accepting the position at lunchtime today.
During Marks time at the helm of this club he has saved us from relegation from the Conference following our drop from League 1 in 2005, taken us to the first ever major game at the new Wembley where we lost out 3-2 to Stevenage and to the edge of the play-offs last season. He has done all this with one arm tied behind his back by a board seemingly intent on paring costs to the bone and selling assets to the first bidder.
It was becoming obvious to most followers of the Harriers that the last round of sales and the shortness of his last minute, one year contract was becoming a major sore point in the management of the club and even if it wasn't Cheltenham coming in for him it would have been another club sooner or later. Also Yates' profile was beginning to grow with what he had achieved on a shoestring and that would also sway the thoughts of other cash strapped clubs Chairmen.
As for his replacement then the fans favourite at the moment is Jim Harvey who is, at the moment, managing our festive opponents Chester City but, if rumour is to be believed, without a contract. That would make him an ideal target for the club without any compensation to pay.
It's not known which other candidates have, or will, apply for the now vacant position but according to the Harriers Chairman Barry Norgrove he has had in the region of forty inquiries for the post. To pay for the new appointee we will have some funds from the compensation that will be paid by Cheltenham but it won't be very much, even when you combine the two salaries.
Who ever does eventually get the job will not be appointed until the New Year is out because that is when the interviewing will begin.
It goes without saying that that both Mark and Neil go to Cheltenham with the full backing of the fans of the club and more importantly the regulars on Harriers Online.
Good luck Mark and good luck Neil. A very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to you both until we meet again.
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