How important are the right coaching qualifications when it comes to managing a football club? Well, in the curious case of Glentoran and their manager, Gary Smyth, you would be within your rights to come to the conclusion that they are very important.
And why so? It’s because Smyth, who is aged 49, apparently doesn’t possess the requisite coaching badges that are needed to be in the club’s hot seat in European competitions, something they are bidding for as the season unfolds.
Smyth, much loved by the fans and considered in many quarters as a club legend, took over role from Ronnie McFall in January. He is currently completing the necessary work to attain his A licence. But without the full set needed for the job it looks as if he will not remain in the role following Saturday’s game against Cliftonville.
Glentoran, who sit in seventh position in the league standings, are said to have until Sunday to apply for a licence to play in Europe next season.
It’s an odd situation for the club — and it is one which, as you would imagine, Smyth himself finds a little irksome! And to make the situation even more perplexing, the curious news comes as reports emerge suggesting investors are set to take over the Glens.
Smyth, a former Glens defender, told the Belfast Telegraph: “I haven’t had any lengthy discussions with anyone (at the club) but did have a quick call to say I couldn’t manage after March 31 and that was that. When Ronnie left the club and I was asked to take over in January, I was very proud to do so because Glentoran has always been my club but I didn’t feel it was going to be on a temporary basis. I wanted to do my best for the Glens as manager this season and in the future — and I believe we have been making progress.”
Meanwhile, a spokesperson at Glens says all options are being considered and that Smyth — along with assistant manager Paul Leeman — was still part of the plans for the management structure, adding: “The club is reviewing all of options that we have for the European licence ahead of the deadline on Sunday. No decision has been made as yet and Gary is still very much part of the future here.
“Gary and Paul do not have the necessary coaching badges, the club knew that when they were appointed and they were enrolled on coaching courses, which is why they were appointed to work under Ronnie McFall in the medium term. But Gary and Paul are still under contract with the club and they’re still very much part of the plans for the club.”
Smyth has steered his side to five victories, four defeats and two draws in his 11-game spell as boss, and it is this form that has helped the Belfast outfit to get in the mix for the European play-offs. Only time will tell if he gets to manage the club next season on the European stage.