Haverhill Rovers are facing a player exodus in the wake of axeing player-manager Michael Shinn after 17 months in charge — citing off-the-field issues behind their decision.
The club’s committee voted to relieve Shinn of his post earlier this week and the former AFC Sudbury player was informed on Tuesday afternoon.
The Echo has learnt the 31-year-old, who since his appointment in September 2014 has proved a popular figure with players and supporters alike, has lodged an appeal against the decision.
Within hours of his sacking Rovers’ players, supporters, youth coaches and other Suffolk non-league football followers had expressed their amazement at the decision and expressed their support for Shinn.
As of Wednesday morning, the Echo understood Ty Alleyne, Tyler Kemp and one other un-named first-team player had asked to be de-registered by the club.
Rovers chairman Ali Shulver said Shinn was sacked because of ‘a breakdown in their relationship’ and between that of Shinn and the committee.
He said: “The off-the-field issues have just come to the point where the relationship is just untenable moving forward.”
Shulver said Shinn has already been on an official warning because of his activities on social media, when things came to a head in the wake of an incident at the New Croft on January 30. The manager and players had spent all day in the bar drinking after their match at Godmanchester was postponed.
Complaints were received from members of the public about their behaviour, which took place while a race night was being held by Haverhill Borough following their home league game against Diss Town.
The complaints led to Rovers striker Ryan Weaver being banned from the facility for six months and having his contract cancelled by Rovers — although he has since returned on non-contract terms and can play in away games.
Shinn’s role in the events led Shulver to say: “It was found during the investigations that Michael had to be responsible for the actions of the first team.
“He is first-team manager and we expect him to lead the team and be a manager first and foremost, rather than a player, and we would expect someone in his role not to put the players in that position.”
Following those events, Shinn was put on a final written warning and asked to agree to a set of terms — approved by the whole committee, said Shulver — that would enable him to continue as the manager. It was said these ultimately brought an end to Shinn’s tenure.
Shulver said some of the conditions had not been met, including agreeing to complete his level 2 coaching badge by the end of the season (paid for by the club).
Shinn believes some of the conditions were unfair, saying: “There was another condition where the club were going to appoint a mentor to work alongside me, which I thought was unreasonable; I’m supposed to be in charge of the football side.
“I had to complete my level 2 badge by the end of the season, which I said was impossible because of the time-frame and because I’ve got a business to run.
“He put conditions on that were really unreasonable, knowing they were impossible for me to meet.”
Shinn also claimed that his relationship with Shulver had been more difficult because Shulver had twice given team talks in the changing room before matches while the manager was not there, but the chairman denied he had ever done so.
Shulver, who is currently helping out as the physio, said: “I just can’t recall that at all. I may walk in and very often I walk in to the changing room before Michael and his assistants, who stay out on the pitch, and I might just say ‘boys, get your heads up’ but I would never interfere with tactics or anything like that.”
Shulver went on to say: “The club were satisfied with the on-the-field activities of Michael.
“We know he’s brought in a lot of local players and they are playing for him and there’s a good team spirit, and the football club acknowledges that.
“Michael has brought a lot of positives into the club which we are nothing but happy about.”
Shinn, who disputes the version of events of January 30, that were given to the committee, feels he would leave with his head held high.
“The crowds have gone up. I’ve tried to bring the youth system forward and I’ve done everything that was asked of me and probably more.
“I’ve given 11 under-18s an opportunity in the first team since I’ve been manager, and that doesn’t happen at any other club.”
Rovers midfielder Riki Baker has asked the chairman to arrange a meeting between the committee and the players to discuss their concerns over the way recent issues, including Shinn’s treatment, have been handled, something Shulver said will be considered by the committee.
Baker said: “As the first team, we are in support of the manager, not just as the first team manager but the head of the football club and we think it’s a disastrous decision.
“We have begged the chairman for all of the committee to sit down with us as a full set of players.”
The midfielder added that first team skipper Martyn Farrant has sent written apologies to both Haverhill Borough and Haverhill Community Sports Association on behalf of all the players for any offence that may have been caused during the events of January 30.