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Rochdale apologise for withholding news of Brian Barry-Murphy's new contract

The League One club admitted that a run of poor form caused them to delay the announcement.

Rochdale manager Brian Barry-Murphy.
Rochdale manager Brian Barry-Murphy.
Image: EMPICS Sport

ENGLISH LEAGUE ONE club Rochdale have issued an apology to supporters over a failure to inform them of a contract extension for manager Brian Barry-Murphy.

Some fans expressed confusion and anger after news of Barry-Murphy’s new deal emerged during an online forum earlier this month.

The former Republic of Ireland U21 international, who’s in his first role in management, will now remain at the helm until June 2022. His previous contract was due to expire at the end of this season.

In an open letter to supporters, Rochdale chiefs explained that the announcement of the extension – which was signed in December – had been withheld due to the team’s abject form.

“We understand supporters’ frustration with results and off-field decisions, and we admit that communication could and should have been better throughout the season,” reads a statement from the club’s Board of Directors.

“Brian, who is a hugely talented manager, has worked at Rochdale AFC for 11 years, and the Board of Directors are fully behind him and his team. He is under contract until the summer of 2022, having signed an extension before Christmas.

“Unfortunately, results ultimately dipped as we entered into January and it became difficult to announce the news. We admit and accept that the news should have been communicated at the time when Brian signed the extension, and we can only apologise that it wasn’t.”

With an emphasis on attacking football and developing the club’s academy players, Barry-Murphy has enhanced his reputation as a promising young manager since taking charge at Rochdale two years ago.

rochdale-v-charlton-athletic-sky-bet-league-one-crown-oil-arena Ireland goalkeeper Gavin Bazunu has played 31 times this season for Rochdale. Source: PA

The 42-year-old Corkman was a member of Keith Hill’s coaching staff before being promoted to the top job when Hill was relieved of his duties in March 2019.

After a run of just one victory in 11 games, the club were in the relegation zone at the time. However, with Barry-Murphy overseeing six wins and two draws from their final 11 fixtures of the season, the Spotland outfit ultimately avoided dropping down to League Two.

Rochdale consolidated their third-tier status last season, during which they also took Manchester United to a penalty shootout at Old Trafford in the Carabao Cup.

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With the club operating on the lowest budget in League One, and financial pressure increased by the impact of Covid-19, the current campaign has been more challenging for Barry-Murphy, whose small squad has been hindered considerably by a series of injuries.

The Lancashire side are currently bottom of the table, but their two most recent results – a win away to promotion-chasing Lincoln City and a home draw against second-placed Peterborough United – have brightened the forecast. Rochdale are currently four points from safety and have the benefit of two games in hand.

Barry-Murphy has assembled a sizeable contingent of compatriots in his squad, which includes seven players from the Republic of Ireland and three others from Northern Ireland.

Among that cohort is 19-year-old Manchester City loanee Gavin Bazunu, who made his senior international debut as the starting goalkeeper in the Republic of Ireland’s 1-0 defeat to Luxembourg on Saturday night.

“Brian, his backroom staff and the players are passionate about this football club and care immensely about its future, as do we, the Board of Directors,” Rochdale’s open letter adds.

“There’s a huge belief amongst the squad and around the club that we can retain our League One status. The players, led by Brian and his staff, will fight until the end to try and do that. We hope you’ll remain with us and get behind the manager and players during our all-important run-in.”

About the author:

Paul Dollery

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