PNE chairman on the spot

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From who is going to be the next permanent Preston North End manager to what colour will next season’s shorts be? – new chairman Peter Ridsdale was grilled on a whole variety of issues by 250 supporters last night.

The fans’ forum, which took place in the Sir Tom Finney Stand’s Great Room at Deepdale, was Ridsdale’s first opportunity to meet his new supporters in the flesh.

Aired live on local radio, Ridsdale, who was joined on the top table by former North End favourites Ian Bryson and Alan Smart, fielded a number of varied questions from eager and knowledge-thirsty fans.

One of the favourite topics of conversation was the identity of Phil Brown’s successor.

Ridsdale indicated that he had already spoken to three possible candidates and was also expecting to hold talks with two others later this week.

He also revealed that current caretaker managers Graham Alexander and David Unsworth were keen to take the job on a more permanent basis

Ridsdale said: “In terms of Graham and David, have they formally applied? No.

“Have they made it absolutely clear to me that they fancy the opportunity? Yes.

“But they have both done it in a way that from both our points of view, it wouldn’t be overly embarrassing if they were not appointed.

“Although, if they carry on doing what they did last Saturday, they will be making it absolutely clear to me that they expect me to make the right decision.”

Many fans asked searching questions about the club’s finances and, in particular, Ridsdale’s remit as chairman.

He said: “My challenge is to stop the club losing as much money as we are at the moment. I want to try and get us playing properly on the park to the extent that we can win promotion back to the Championship.

“My total focus today is to try to make sure the club is run as efficiently as possible, the team is winning more matches than it’s losing and is climbing up the league as soon as possible.”

One supporter’s appeal to return the colour of the team’s shorts to its traditional blue, rather than this season’s white, was met with universal approval.

Meanwhile, Unsworth was delighted to have made his and Alexander’s first ‘signing’ for the club with the appointment of Alan Kelly junior as first-team goalkeeper coach.

The former Sheffield United and Republic of Ireland stopper began his career at Deepdale – following in the footsteps of his father, the legendary Alan Kelly senior.

He also went on to serve Blackburn Rovers, Stockport County, Birmingham City and is the current Irish goalkeeper coach, who has also been working with the youngsters at North End’s School of Excellence.

Unsworth said: “Alan, as a professional, is superb at his job and I’ve also known him as a friend for a while.

“Both Graham and I felt we needed someone full-time in the goalkeeping position because it is such a specialist job.

“For someone to be doing that job part-time, we just didn’t think it was enough.

“We asked Alan the question and before we could even finish the question, he said yes.

“He’s really keen to come on-board with us and we’re absolutely delighted to have him.”

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