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Neil Gibson: Why I’ve left Prestatyn Town for a second time

Neil Gibson (left) with Michael Parker on the day in 2018 the midfield great re-signed for the Seasiders

Neil Gibson says he left Prestatyn Town because he disagreed with the direction the new owner was taking the club in.

Gibson stepped down today after a second successful spell as manager which saw him secure a third tier 2 Cymru North title with the Seasiders last season.

Merseyside-based investor Jamie Welsh took over the club in June after previous chairman Neal Colakoglu resigned.

Despite winning the Cymru North championship by 16 points last season, Prestatyn were refused promotion to the Cymru Premier as its TV gantry did not comply with latest broadcasting standards.

When Welsh became new chairman, the club’s rejection was not official but looked likely.

He said at the time: “The club has real potential and I look forward to fulfilling that potential. It’s obvious to see that we have a fantastic team on the pitch and the best manager in Wales.”

However, the club has steadily lost several key players and officials from last season’s successful set-up over the past four months.

Players such as Rob Hughes, Jordan Davies, Alex Jones, Kai Edwards and Zebb Edwards have all moved on, as well as senior officials Martin Jones, Tony O’Reilly, Leigh Williams and Leon Field, plus academy leaders.

Today’s departure of Gibson is the latest blow.

“The club has changed over the last few months under the new ownership,” said Gibson, who has been at Prestatyn for the best part of 15 years.

“There’s been a different way of doing things; the way they are trying to take the club is not the way we want it to go, so I thought it best we parted ways.

“Since I returned to the club (October 2018) we’ve been successful and didn’t feel the need to take things in a different direction.”

Gibson, who did not wish to elaborate on the changes he was unhappy with, added: “I’ve been here for 15 years and never really wanted to see myself as being not with Prestatyn.

“I took on a fresh challenge at Connah’s Quay (January 2018) because the time felt right.

“I was very comfortable at the club, things were building nicely and they’ve gone on to be very successful, but I came back to Prestatyn because that’s where my heart was.

“It wasn’t a decision I took lightly, but the club was bottom of the Cymru North and I felt the need to go back there and help them rebuild.”

Gibson admitted he feels sad to be leaving Prestatyn for a second time, especially with the club having had a tremendous 2019-20 season.

“We’d won the league, we reached the semi-finals of the Welsh Cup, it feels like there’s unfinished business,” he stressed.

“Prestatyn Town is more than just a football club. From the staff, to the players, to the amazing fans, it’s a family, a very special group of people.

“I’m a fan myself and I cannot thank the supporters enough for always being behind me.

“Myself, and all the players who have left, do so with a heavy heart, but there was a Prestatyn Town before we arrived and I’m sure there will be one in the future.

“I wish the club well.”

Neil Gibson (middle row – first left) celebrates Welsh Cup final joy with Prestatyn Town in 2013. Picture: Hollie Jones

During his two stints as PTFC manager, Gibson led the club for eight seasons in the Cymru Premier, won three Cymru Alliance titles, lifted the Welsh Cup, NWCFA Challenge Cup and triumphed in a European tie.

Yet it was another achievement he most wanted to highlight when asked about his finest memory.

“The fact we’ve brought 73 lads through the academy who have played more than 2,000 matches between them is something I’m very proud of,” said Gibbo.

“Some of these lads have gone on to carve out very good careers for themselves.”

As for future plans, Gibson said: “I feel I still have a lot to offer and look forward to the next challenge, but Prestatyn Town will always be foremost in my heart.”

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