David Hopkin: 'Final straw' at Morton was board naming players to go

David Hopkin is ready for a return to management after leaving Morton last month
David Hopkin is ready for a return to management after leaving Morton last month

David Hopkin says he paid money out of his own pocket for food and bonuses for his players prior to quitting as Greenock Morton manager.

The former Scotland midfielder left the Championship club seven weeks ago after 18 months at the helm.

Hopkin has told BBC Scotland the "final straw" was when the board named players they wanted out to cut costs and hopes him leaving prevented their exit.

"There were a few things going on," the 50-year-old told Sportsound.

"I was trying to get four quality players signed for January and was sure they would have pushed us on to the play-off spots.

"I was told by [chairman] Crawford [Rae] the club had had a board meeting and didn't want any more players to come in, and wanted to me reduce the playing staff by five or six, which I felt was difficult.

"Then Crawford said the board had started to name players [to go] and that was the final straw for me. I left the meeting, went to training, and told the players I was going to resign that day.

"Hopefully the money the club saved on my salary safeguarded the players who were maybe going to lose their job.

"The club means a lot to me. I've been a fan since I was five, I've been player, youth team coach, reserve team manager, first team manager, shareholder. So it was big wrench to leave, but I did it for the right reasons ."

Having left Livingston after steering them to the Premiership with successive promotions, Hopkin accepted the Morton job in May 2019 with eyes wide open.

He knew there was a "significant" drop in budget from the previous manager, but was confident in his ability to spot and improve talent from the lower leagues.

Rae has stated he will no longer subsidise the club - fans group Morton Club Together are due to take control from next term - and this season brought further financial pressures for Hopkin, who admits he helped to cover some expenditure.

He added: "That was something I decided to do myself. It was just a couple of things with certain players we had to get in, it was some appearance money short and I agreed to pay it.

"There was also the food where we were £100 short a week and me and [goalkeeping coach] Dave Timmins and sometimes Dave McKinnon made sure we paid that, so the players got their meals.

"We probably had the lowest budget in the Championship. I reckon, throughout the whole squad I had, [the average wage] was around £300 per week."

Hopkin, who also had a short spell in charge of Bradford City following his Livingston departure, is now ready for a fresh challenge.

"Yeah, I'm looking to get back in," he said. "I believe I have a lot to offer. I take pride in giving youngsters a chance to play and I've already proved I can win leagues and play-offs."

In response to Hopkin's interview, Morton chairman Rae told BBC Scotland: "I categorically deny that I advised Hoppy of any individual players that he had to release. This type of involvement or intervention was never instructed from myself or my father throughout our tenure.

"Managers are given a budget and left to engage who they think will add value to the team.

"While we discuss possibilities of potential players with our management team, however at no time did we or do we try and influence the manager's final decision."

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