Grayson is early front runner for PNE job

Simon Grayson.
Simon Grayson.
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Preston are looking long-term in their search for a new manager rather than just a short-term fix.

It’s the intention of North End to have Graham Westley’s successor in place for the visit to Swindon Town a week on Saturday.

There had been speculation that they would appoint an interim to see them through until the end of the season.

Although there will be a caretaker manager drawn from the club’s backroom staff in charge for the clash with League One leaders Bournemouth this weekend, the new boss will be brought in for the long haul.

Simon Grayson is the early front runner, the 43-year-old having won promotions from this level with Blackpool, Leeds and Huddersfield.

He was sacked by Huddersfield in January, a strong start to the Championship campaign giving way to a losing run.

Former PNE winger Gareth Ainsworth, currently in charge of League Two side Wycombe, is a name doing the rounds among North End fans.

It’s understood that the Preston board have a preferred candidate, although they had 30 applications for the vacancy yesterday after news of Westley’s sacking was made public.

Today’s job for PNE officials will be to meet the coaching staff and players to put a short-term plan into place for the Bournemouth game.

There’s been no word yet on the futures of assistant manager John Dreyer and first-team coach Dino Maamria.

A PNE spokesman told the Evening Post: “The club will be having meetings with the coaching staff and players today. We will discuss the best way forward for this weekend and see what structure the players would be comfortable with.

“The caretaker manager will come from in-house.

“Looking further ahead, the aim is to have a permanent manager in place for the Swindon game.

“It will be a permanent appointment, not just for this season, because there has been too much chopping and changing here.”

Westley’s 13-month reign was brought to an end yesterday, with PNE officials travelling to London .

Although his last game in charge was Tuesday night’s 3-1 defeat at Yeovil, it was the losses to Shrewsbury and Colchester which forced the club into action.

North End saw those games as ‘must-win fixtures’, minds having been made up by the time of the Huish Park visit.

The statement released by PNE said: “Graham oversaw a fundamental change in reducing the wage bill in line with the financial fair play criteria and brought together a whole new squad of players last summer.

“After an initially encouraging start to the season regrettably results have not been acceptable and the board felt that a change of manager was the only way forward.”

“Graham leaves with our thanks and best wishes for the future.”

The level of compensation PNE will pay Westley had already been agreed when he joined in January last year – there was a fixed amount written into his contract.

The figure doesn’t affect the Financial Fair Play rules.