Blackpool and Barnsley target Michael Duff: Cheltenham Town board issue statement on manager’s future in demand

Cheltenham Town say they are doing everything they can to persuade in-demand boss Michael Duff to stay with the club.

The 44-year-old traveled north for talks with Barnsley chief executive Khaled El-Ahmad on Monday night and is expected to be interviewed by Championship club Blackpool before the end of this week.

Duff’s existing contract at Cheltenham runs until the end of the 2022/23 season, but he has been offered an improved offer by the League One club, for which he has been in charge since September 2018.

Meanwhile, the former Northern Ireland international defender led them to their maiden League Two title, followed by their best-ever finish in the just-concluded season, when they finished 15th in the third level.

In a statement on Monday evening, the club hinted that contingency plans were in place should Duff decide to leave this summer.

Full statement from Cheltenham Town: “The board are aware of the speculation surrounding Michael Duff’s future and would like to update Cheltenham Town supporters on the current situation.

“Michael’s contract at Cheltenham Town still has a year to run and we are extremely keen to keep him on as our manager. To that end, the directors have offered to extend that contract and discussions are continuing.

“It is common knowledge that Barnsley have asked permission to speak to Michael as part of their new managerial recruitment process and we have now also received an approach from a Championship club. Michael has been granted permission to speak to two clubs but we remain hopeful that he will stay to continue his work at Completely-Suzuki Stadium.

“The interest in Michael and his coaching staff is testament to the club’s remarkable success over the past three seasons.

“The club and Michael remain in regular contact with a view to settling his future position as soon as possible. We have made it as clear as possible to him that we wish him to stay and hope that will be his final decision. .

“In the meantime, preparations for the 2022/23 season are continuing as planned and the board will be preparing for a number of different eventualities in order to try to give the team the best possible chance of starting the new campaign. as loud as possible.”

As a young player, Duff was released by Nottingham Forest, Darlington and Swindon Town before joining Cheltenham in 1996.

He helped them rise from the Southern League Premier Division to League One under Steve Cotterill between 1997 and 2002, winning three promotions and the FA Trophy as a Robins player.

Duff, born in Belfast, left to join Burnley in 2004 and in 12 seasons with the Clarets he enjoyed three promotions to the Premier League before retiring in 2016.

He then took charge of the Burnley Under-18s for a season, stepping up to lead the Under-23s in 2017/18 and he was briefly involved with Sean Dyche’s first-team staff at Turf Moor before moving on. joining Cheltenham as manager and the club have been on an upward trajectory since then.

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