Keyte will not quit Hereford - and wants to keep O'Kelly as manager

By Trevor OwensBBC Hereford & Worcester
David Keyte and Richard O'Kelly
David Keyte (right) with United's new manager Richard O'Kelly

Hereford chairman David Keyte has no plans to stand down in the wake of relegation from the Football League.

And he has offered manager Richard O'Kelly the job of leading the Bulls back at the first attempt.

"I'm not a quitter. We saw it as a minimum five-year job to try to turn the club around," Keyte told BBC Hereford & Worcester.

Their six-year stay back in the League ended on Saturday when they went down despite a final-day win over Torquay.

And Keyte, who took over as chairman two years ago when Graham Turner left the club, admits that it has been a steep learning curve.

"I don't plan to," he said, when asked if he might step down from high office.

"We have had some criticism for putting time and effort into off-field improvements which I think we are on track with.

"Unfortunately the return on the pitch has been negligible in the last two years for a fair amount of investment so we take our medicine at this moment."

The Bulls face the prospect of trying to go back up, knowing that only three teams - Darlington, Colchester United and Shrewsbury Town - have ever done so at the first attempt.

And they will be attempting to do it on less resources.

The chairman has put in £250,000 of his own money to help see the club through this season, a figure which he admits is "far too much".

And he had already warned that the harsh financial reality of life outside the Football League would mean the club having to cut its cloth accordingly.

"The starting point of being some £400,000 down on the funding in the Conference obviously drives the thinking," he said.

"It is obviously going to be a smaller squad of players - probably younger, cheaper players who are hungry for personal success and hence success for the club.

"But we are certainly not going to have a squad of 29 players and five members of the coaching staff.

"I would imagine we are looking at a squad of 17 or 18 players tops.

"They would be on an average wage of less than where we have been in the last two seasons.

"And we need to get back to having a coaching staff of a manager, his coach and a physiotherapist."

After taking over from Jamie Pitman in March, O'Kelly ended his two-month stay in the manager's hotseat with impressive wins over promotion-chasing pair Crawley and Torquay.

That took O'Kelly's tally to three wins and four draws from 12 games.

And the Hereford chairman is already on record as admitting that he wishes he had made the change sooner.

But, while Keyte waits for O'Kelly to consider his options, it effectively puts the future of former boss Pitman, fellow coaches Russell Hoult and Richard Sneekes and director of football Gary Peters at risk.