Port Vale chairman Norman Smurthwaite says manager's job is a 'massive decision'

Port Vale chairman Norman Smurthwaite
Norman Smurthwaite has been Port Vale chairman since May 2013

Port Vale chairman Norman Smurthwaite says choosing their next manager is a "massive decision".

Following Rob Page's departure for Northampton, Smurthwaite has narrowed down the search to three applicants, one of whom is such a big name he "thought it was a wind-up".

He now intends to have the new man in place in Burslem by 21 June.

"One of the three has contractual obligations until then. It's a massive decision for me," said Smurthwaite.

"If I get it right, then happy fans, happy club. If I get it wrong, then unhappy fans, unhappy club, unhappy chairman."

One Vale candidate 'shines out like a beacon'

"The other two decisions I've had to make since I've been chairman were forced on me," Smurthwaite told BBC Stoke's Sport at Six.

"Micky Adams left, then my first choice until a week before I appointed Rob Page got offered a job he could not turn down. Rob was doing reasonably well, bringing us back up the table and winning games, so I gave the job to him.

"Now I have three candidates and all of them have their own merits.

"One has been out of the game a while, but he has a young hungry assistant who would come in as part of it.

"The second is the candidate who should have had the the job 18 months ago.

"The third shines out like a beacon from the people putting him forward. In fact, up until recently I thought it was a wind-up. Then they contacted me.

"They have now done so, senior people in the hierarchy of the UK game. Now it looks like what I thought was bogus turns out to be potential reality."

Brown to remain in coaching role

Smurthwaite has had over 70 applications - but not from ex-Vale boss Micky Adams and former Vale winger Gareth Ainsworth, the Wycombe manager.

Both have already ruled themselves out, while veteran player Michael Brown, the bookies' favourite, has also been dismissed by the Vale chairman, despite his enhanced new role on the coaching staff.

"Browny won't be the manager," said Smurthwaite. "He'll be in the background. But I want to hear what he says.

"He could be interviewing the man who's going to be his boss, which seems a strange way round."

Vale remain on the market, having been put up for sale in December 2015 by Smurthwaite, who helped bring the club out of administration in 2012.

Smurthwaite became sole owner in May 2013, when his former business partner Paul Wildes left shortly after Vale had won promotion from League Two.

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