Farsley Celtic have announced a new-look management team heading into the 2023/24 season, with Clayton Donaldson serving as both head coach and player.
Donaldson, 39, who signed for the Celts as a striker last month, has played in the Championship with clubs such as Brentford, Birmingham City and Sheffield United.
He will be supported by assistant head coaches Danny Ellis – a stalwart Celts defender who had a stint as Guiseley manager last season – Tom Morgan and one other who is still awaiting confirmation from the League Managers’ Association.
The new set up follows former boss Russ Wilcox’s decision to quit the National League North club last month.
Donaldson said: “I am absolutely delighted to be appointed head coach at Farsley Celtic and I can’t wait to get started!
“This is something I’ve been working towards in the latter stages of my playing career by doing my coaching badges and being more involved in the management side of things while being at York City and Gainsborough Trinity, where we finished in the playoffs on both occasions.
“Now it’s my turn to take the wheel and steer Farsley Celtic towards a successful future. The recruitment has been really good and the squad really excites me so now it’s just a case of getting the best out of them, which is something I’m looking forward to doing with my coaching team.”
Farsley Celtic chairman Paul Barthorpe said: “Following the departure of our manager, we took the decision to change our management structure from the traditional first team manager and assistant manager, to a more progressive and flexible head coach and assistant coach model, supported by a director of football.
“We wanted to appoint a young dynamic management team, with hunger, drive and a real passion for the challenge at Farsley, who have knowledge and understanding of the latest tactics, methodologies, training techniques and technologies as well as a good knowledge of non-league football, an extensive contact list in the game and who have the ability to not only attract players but to get the best out of them.
“As the recruitment process began, it quickly became apparent that we had individuals with all of these qualities in abundance already at the club. It is difficult to not be hugely impressed by Clayton, and Tom, simply by speaking to them. Their passion, knowledge of the game and it’s constituent components and their ability to articulate it frankly blew the board away.
“Club legend Danny Ellis brings with him to the dugout the passion and commitment he showed us for many years here as a player, and given his love for the club bringing him back to form what we believe is a very strong management set up was a no brainer.”
Barthorpe said director of football Pav Singh will offer further support their continued development and progression as coaches.
“Pav, with advice and support from the the new head team coach and the board, has been instrumental in the new management model, player recruitment and negotiations in the rebuild of the squad,” Barthorpe added.
“We are thoroughly convinced that Clayton is the right man for the job. He is a very talented coach, and I expect big things from him in the years to come. He and the team we have put around him are absolutely the best candidates for both the team and the club.
“I am fully confident that we will have a great season on the pitch, and when our fans spend time with the new members of the management team and become reacquainted with the existing ones they will see how this became such an easy decision for us to make.”
Director of football Pav Singh added: “I am thrilled that we have been able to assemble such a talented dynamic management team such as this.
“Each of them in their own right ticks every box we were looking for, and we believe that as a collective group they will bring out their experience and relevant skill sets that gets the best out of each of them during training and match days.
“It’s important that Clayton is getting the best support mechanism possible to lead the players in his first head coach role whilst playing, so our match day preparation needs to be slick both on and off the pitch.
“Clayton is for me the perfect choice, given his vast footballing experience both as a player and his previous experiences in coaching roles at York and Gainsborough, and the success he had in those roles.
“Pre-season and training throughout the season is also something we have to raise the bar with and give players the opportunity to be the peak versions of themselves. This new squad of players with the existing squad we retained will raise that bar in both intensity and enthusiasm I don’t doubt.
“This is a very exciting time for the club, with the rebuild of the new squad we have and the new and exciting management team.
“Myself and the chairman have worked tirelessly to make this happen, and we are totally committed to taking this club forwards on the front foot and giving the fans something to really be passionate and proud of.”
Farsley Celtic, who finished just one place above the relegation places last season, have embarked in a major rebuild of the squad.
New signings include strikers Clayton Donaldson, forwards Darren Stevenson and Joao Silva, midfielders Ryan Watson and Ben Atkinson and defenders Rudy Misambo, Conor Branson and George Smith.
Tom Allan, Tom Morgan, Isaac Assenso, Lewis Turner and captain Chris Atkinson were retained.
Departures included all the club’s loan players and Sam Muggleton and Luke Parkin were also released. Carlton Ubaezuonu joined Chorley, Lewis Butroid joined Gainsborough along with Bobby Johnson and striker Frank Mulhern joined Scarborough. Skipper Dave Syers retired. Contract negotiations continue with several first team players from last season.