Guiseley AFC, relegated from the Vanarama National League at the end of the season, have announced the appointment of a new management team with Russ O’Neill and Marcus Bignot taking the reins at Nethermoor as joint-managers with Paul Clayton as assistant-manager.
After a turbulent 2017/18 campaign, both on and off the pitch, the club will be reverting to a part-time basis to re-group, stabilise and consolidate under new chairman Gary Douglas.
With that in mind they have hand-picked a management team who have extensive experience of working at this level on limited resources but also being successful at the same time and both O’Neill and Bignot have won the division before.
Douglas told the club`s official website: “We have been a long-term admirer of the work Russ did at Alfreton Town along with Nicky Law in gaining promotion to the Premier Division and to the brink of League football at their peak.
“The ability of Russ to identify potential and work with them to improve their game and turn them into an integral part of a team will be invaluable to us, as it was at Alfreton Town. The fact that he was at the club for ten years, we feel, says everything not only about the great job he did but also about his loyalty and character as an individual.”
O’Neill left Alfreton to make way for a new investor and manager combination after the club had given him and Law a testimonial to say thank you for the most successful ten years in the club’s history.
Douglas added: “Since leaving Alfreton Russ has been working for Burnley in recruitment and has turned down the opportunity to go back into management on several occasions so we feel fortunate to have him as part of our new management team.
“Marcus did a similar job at Solihull Moors, gaining promotion from the North to the Premier and in turn attracting the attention of Grimsby Town.”
Bignot, 43, enjoyed an extensive playing career with over 600 appearances to his name most notably with Queens Park Rangers and Crewe Alexandra in the EFL Championship.
Bignot’s first managerial appointment came in July 2011 with National League North side Solihull Moors.
His five-year tenure at the club was a great success as he built a reputation for developing players, improving playing squads on limited resources, as well as identifying and recruiting young talent.
His skill set would not stop there. A visionary he also had a desire and passion to build a Community Football Club and not only a football team at Solihull Moors. He demonstrated at Solihull his involvement off the field, in contributing to the building of an infrastructure on the football, community and business side behind the scenes – a structure preparing for future success.
In 2015/16 Solihull won the National League North and promotion to the National League for the first time in their history.
Such was Bignot’s burgeoning reputation that soon after the promotion he was approached by League Two side Grimsby Town in November 2016
He continued to maintain a good points tally that would keep Grimsby well away from relegation in their first season back in League Two. However, he and the Mariners parted company at the beginning of April 2017, when seven points off the play-offs.
Chester FC appointed Bignot in September 2017, with financial problems announced in January.
Tasked with managing the club through undesirable circumstances, reducing the wage budget drastically whilst fighting relegation, meant that key players and staff had to depart, and the focus was placed on the cub’s fundraising therefore survival ultimately proved an impossible task.
In these tough times Bignot gained many admirers within football for the way he managed the situation with integrity and maintained his professionalism.
He left Chester FC in April 2018.
Completing the management team is Paul Clayton, who was a thorn in many a team’s side over the years as a striker, most notably for Alfreton.
“His aggressive and enthusiastic will-to-win attitude on the pitch will no doubt be taken into his first steps of management,” said Douglas.
He added: “We are really excited to have the new management team in place as we look to get stability back into our club. We are a family club and at this point in time we need everybody connected with the club to pull together as we aim to recover from what was a really testing twelve months for the club.”
Douglas concluded: “We were overwhelmed by the number of candidates applying for the post and we are thankful for all of the interest. We would also like to put on record our thanks to Sean St Ledger, who stepped up from a playing role to manage the team over the past few months”.