After nearly four years as manager of Cheltenham Town Michael Duff has informed the Board of Directors that he wishes to depart the club to pursue a new opportunity.
Since the end of the season the club has received two approaches from other clubs for permission to speak to Michael and one of them has now offered him the position of manager.
“Obviously it’s a disappointing day for Cheltenham Town as Michael has done such a tremendous job for us but he leaves with our very best wishes for the future,” said club chairman David Bloxham.
“Michael made it clear to us that it was a very difficult decision for him. We did all we could to try and keep him at the club but ultimately this new opportunity is one that he feels is right for him at this stage of his career.
“I know it would not have been an easy decision to arrive at because Michael has built up a very special bond with our club and his family all live locally so it will be a big wrench for him to leave but as an ambitious young manager, we completely respect his decision.
“The search for a new manager will begin immediately and we are fortunate in having a strong and very capable football staff who will continue preparations for the new season as normal. Our Director of Football Micky Moore continues to work hard to recruit new players and the squad will return for pre-season training next week.”
Michael Duff took charge of the Robins in September 2018, his first job in management after working as a coach at Burnley. He had spent 12 years as a player there after making his name in eight successful seasons with Cheltenham Town in the late 1990s and early 2000s. The Robins failed to win any of their first eight matches with him in charge but the Board knew enough of his qualities to maintain faith in him and it paid off handsomely.
The following season the team reached the League Two play-offs where they were beaten in the semi-final by Northampton Town. But the 2020-21 campaign, much of which was played behind closed doors due to the Covid-19 pandemic, which proved to be the most successful in the club’s history. The Sky Bet League Two championship was won and a memorable FA Cup run ended with a 3-1 defeat to Manchester City but only after Cheltenham Town had led the Premier League giants 1-0 with less than 10 minutes left. Last season the club achieved the highest finishing position in its history by reaching 15th place in League One.
New Stadium sponsor, Completely Motoring MD Rob Ayland said: “We are immensely proud of the relationship we enjoy with Mike, and all his family, at Completely Motoring Group.
The news that he has decided to depart the Completely-Suzuki Stadium is bittersweet.
“In our MDs 25th season of sponsorship it would have been an honour to have discussed the strategy and results with Michael.
“However, the board of Cheltenham Town have a history of pulling great managers out of the bag!
CTFC managers Steve Cotterill, John Ward and Gary Johnson made amazing contributions over recent seasons. Let’s join forces in wishing them a successful search for a replacement.
As for Michael, Jess and family… huge congratulations on another step up in the football pyramid. An ex-premier league club that will surely put Michael on the radar of the biggest and the best as he undoubtedly achieves further success.
“As for now, up the Robins!
See you all soon at the Completely-Suzuki Stadium!”
Vice Chairman Paul Bence said: “Clearly it is hugely disappointing that Michael is leaving the club. However, we wish him the very best in the next stage of his career.
The club tried everything in its power to keep him.
He has been nothing short of brilliant with the players, fans, Board and the local community. He has left us with a very solid base on and off the pitch. The standards he has instilled throughout the club in his tenure are formidable and we have learnt valuable lessons. The recruitment process for his replacement has commenced and we have already recieved a very high calibre of candidates, as we look to continue to establish ourselves as a solid League 1 club.“
Superfan and Cheltenham Post writer Pat Cox also paid tribute, he said: “It is a disappointment to see Duffy leave after 4 years at Cheltenham in which time he helped Town to the highest position ever in their history.
Seeing him go to another league 1 club hurts a little as it doesn’t appear to be tremendously different to where Cheltenham are at.
As a fan I thank him for the brand of football he tried to get Cheltenham playing and wish him a successful career.”
We at The Post wish Michael the very best and are sure there will always be a warm welcome back to the Completely-Suzuki Stadium in the future.