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26 May 2020 : Statement from the Board

On Thursday the Board voted on whether to retain the services of Michael Ellison as Manager of Runcorn Linnets FC. The outcome of that vote wasn't unanimous, but the majority view was that the relationship should not continue. It has been one of the hardest decisions to make during the lifetime of the club, as Ello has not only enjoyed great success during his time at the club, but he is a very popular figure with great drive and enthusiasm.

What follows is an explanation of the events that led to that decision.

Since the season was cut short, all members of the Board were involved in preparations for next season, and beyond, with a new three year plan that was created with accommodations for the new Hybrid Carpet pitch, along with the potential impact of the COVID19 pandemic. From this plan, a playing budget was determined and agreed by the Board. Whilst this budget was a decrease compared to last season, it was felt that it was necessary to take a prudent approach in these uncertain times.

This budget was presented to Ello by chairman Mike Bignall, around two weeks ago. In previous years this would have been done at a meeting with a number of Board members present, but with social distancing measures in place it was decided that it should be done as a conference call, but technical issues intervened to leave it as a one to one. Ello asked that there be a guarantee of his job security, and for time to think it over.

After a few days' consideration, Ello's response was that he couldn't work to the budget that was offered.

The plan had already incorporated everything that could reasonably be taken into account, and the budget had been set to be as generous as possible. It wasn't a negotiation position from which we could be talked up a little, it was simply the amount that could be afforded. In an attempt to make the budget more appealing, a number of conditional elements that couldn't be guaranteed to occur were offered to be locked in to facilitate a budget increase, i.e. if this happens, then the budget can be increased by that amount.

This revised budget plan was discussed with Ello early last week in a conversation that can only be described as heated, and emotional, and was ultimately ended by Ello putting the phone down. Mike explained the Board's position that they didn't feel that an unconditional guarantee of job security was something they could offer. During the call Ello expressed his lack of confidence in the Board along with his rejection of the revised offer. He also made it clear that if the offer were increased, but subsequently reduced, then he would resign. Following this, the Board were considering the prospects of having to find a new Management team as it felt it was only time before a resignation from Ello would be forthcoming.

The following day, via an intermediary, Ello indicated that he had a change of heart, and said he would work to the budget with the conditional elements. However, this left us in a situation where Ello had already threatened resignation, but had now agreed to a budget that he was evidently unhappy about and to work with a group, with which he had made it clear he had no confidence. Our concern was that should he not see the season out, whether that be between now and start of the season or at some point during the season, that would potentially leave the club in more jeopardy than moving on with a new management team. This view wasn't unanimous, but it was held by the majority, and so following a vote on whether to retain Ello's services or not, the conclusion was to let him go, and seek a new management team.

Mike Bignall called Ello to inform him of the Board's decision, and to Ello's credit he took the news well, and left on amicable terms. He said that he wanted to inform his staff himself, which is why contact wasn't made by the club, and it was agreed that the club's statement would be cleared by both parties prior to publication. As news started to surface on social media, it was felt by the club that a short statement would enable it to be agreed and published in short order. It was published as soon as that agreement was received.

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