Halifax count cost of Bracewell's exit

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The Independent Football

Bob Walker, the Halifax Town chairman, believes that the early-season departure of manager Paul Bracewell played a big role in his club's relegation from the Football League for the second time in their history.

Halifax went down from the Third Division on Monday after a 5-0 defeat at Darlington. Bracewell resigned five games into the campaign, despite signing four new players over the summer, and Walker feels the uncertainty during the search for his replacement hit them hard. "It took away all the stability," he said. "The club was thrown into turmoil and I don't think we've ever really recovered from that moment. We had a really good pre-season, were playing some really good stuff, and then five games into the season we had to go back to square one."

The departure of the former Everton, Newcastle and Sunderland player left a vacuum that the Halifax board struggled to fill. Tony Parks and Neil Redfearn were appointed as caretaker managers but talks over appointing them on a permanent basis collapsed and Alan Little was made full-time manager in October.

The Shaymen's form took a big dip under his stewardship, and, by the time Little was hospitalised with an appendix problem in March and Redfearn returned to the helm, the club's fate was all but sealed.

"It's been a total rollercoaster," admitted Walker. "There's been no stability and for quite a while we haven't really known what's around the corner. Nothing would surprise me in this game any more – nothing."

The club dropped out of the Football League for the first time in 1993, and spent five years in the Conference before returning to the Third Division. They now become the first club to be relegated to the Conference twice.

Walker's immediate task is to prepare the club for a future in the Conference, and he is adamant they will not make the same errors that almost led to them going out of business earlier this year. "Mistakes have been made in the past and what I'm not prepared to do is base my plans on what might happen," he said. "I'm not going to spend what I haven't got – if the other members of the board want to do that they can get on with it."

The Halifax board has called an extraordinary general meeting later this week, when it will discuss plans for life in the Conference. Part-time football may be on the agenda.

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