Alex Neil’s three-year deal can signal dawn of a new era for Preston North End

Alex Neil and Peter Ridsdale share a brew before Preston's game at West Bromwich Albion
Alex Neil and Peter Ridsdale share a brew before Preston's game at West Bromwich Albion

Alex Neil is looking forward to driving his young Preston side on to better things after he put speculation over his future to bed by signing a new contract.

After intense rumours linking him to West Bromwich Albion – the side who beat PNE 4-1 on Saturday – Neil penned his new deal yesterday.

It is a three-year contract to replace the rolling deal he signed when he joined the club in July 2017.

The deal takes him through to the summer of 2022.

“This is a fantastic football club and we have built a young squad that not only has great ability, but has great potential to improve,” said Neil.

“I thoroughly enjoy working with them and seeing them give everything to get better, every single day.”

PNE had opened talks with Neil about a new deal last week. An agreement was close but not finalised ahead of the West Bromwich game.

There followed a huge amount of speculation after the game about Neil going there.

But yesterday lunchtime Neil met with Peter Ridsdale to sign the contract.

Albion’s interest in Neil was genuine although they had not made an official approach.

He was their main target to replace Darren Moore, who they sacked five weeks ago, and were willing to pay out compensation for him.

After the Hawthorns loss, Neil apologised to the Preston fans for letting them down on Gentry Day, feeling that the speculation linking him with the Baggies had played its part in a poor PNE display.

Neil said: “We have a lot of young lads here, 19, 20, 21, who haven’t been in this situation before.

“I’ve been their leader, mentor, manager – call it what you want – at a vital part of their career because a lot of them are just starting out. When you get questions like this, their minds start to wander, not that I’m giving them an excuse or a way out.

“It was Gentry Day which means a massive amount, it is for people who have been lost who fans want to remember.

“I feel as if I have ruined it for the supporters.”

Ridsdale is pleased to have secured Neil on a new deal and to have quashed the interest from West Bromwich.

The advisor to club owner Trevor Hemmings said: “Alex has shown in the past two years that he is one of the best young managers in the game.

“It shows the club’s ambition and commitment to improvement that he has agreed this new deal with us.

“Alex’s work-rate and passion for the game is second to none and we are delighted that he has committed his long-term future to Preston.

“The owner and I look forward to working closely with him to achieve the ambitions we have for the club.”