New Runcorn Linnets manager appointed

Runcorn Linnets have announced the appointment of Antony Kay as the club's new manager.

Kay replaces Billy Paynter, who resigned in the wake of their NPL West Division play-off semi-final defeat to City of Liverpool.

Kay, one of football's most enduring characters and a triple promotion-winning veteran of 595 Football League games, joined Linnets last summer at the age of 41.

He made 41 appearances during his debut season at the club, scoring five times, but has now opted to call time on his playing career to embark on an exciting new chapter in management.

Linnets chairman Peter Cartledge said: "We received some quality applications both before and after advertising the post, but once Antony declared his interest, it became clear that he would be a perfect fit for the role.

"He already has a feel for the club, and on meeting with him this week, we were greatly impressed by his plans, vision for the club and his infectious enthusiasm.

"Kaysey has played with distinction to a high level, and to have been able to continue playin well into his 42nd year is a testimony to his love of and commitment to the game and his fitness, conditioning and drive.

"I have no doubt that he could have continued playing in the coming season, but he wants to concentrate on managing and we have the utmost respect for him making that decision.

"He can't wait to get started, putting together his support team and plans in place for the summer and the season ahead."

Kay will be tasked with overseeing a change in fortunes which has seen the club lose out in the play-offs in each of the last three seasons.

After successive play-off final defeats in 2021/22 and 2022/23, they finished second last term and earned home advantage but fell to a 2-0 play-off semi-final loss to City of Liverpool earlier this month.

Paynter's subsequent resignation left a void which has now been filled by one of his former squad members in Kay, who admits that the players and behind-the-scenes team were big factors in choosing Linnets for the long planned switch from player to manager.

"It's a good club. When I came here with my family, it's well-run, it's a family club. It's a great way to start my managerial career," he said.

"I firmly believe in coaching a style and brand of football that is based on improving players, being creative and fluid in possession whilst instilling a foundation of hard work, discipline and respect along with my strong drive to see things through.

"In my 22 years of being a professional footballer, I have played under numerous managers and learnt a lot, taking both the positives and negatives into how I want to manage and coach."

Photo credit: Runcorn Linnets

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