Hill shrugs off job speculation as Oakwell takeover talks continue

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BARNSLEY boss Keith Hill admits that speculation regarding his own future and that of the club represents a ‘sideshow’ he could have done without this week.

Rumours on Sunday that an Italian consortium reportedly keen to take over at Oakwell would axe Hill and assistant-boss David Flitcroft if they took charge took a fair bit of gloss away from the Tykes’ tremendous 5-0 success at Birmingham the previous day – the club’s biggest away-day success for 30 years – and left a bad after-taste in the mouth of Hill.

The Tykes have confirmed they have been approached by two parties interested in buying the club with multi-millionaire owner Patrick Cryne keen to sell up – and it is understood the club have approached a third party to help broker a deal.

That firm is not investment bank Seymour Pierce, whose chairman Keith Harris – regarded as a “Mr Fixit” in footballing circles – has been instrumental in a number of takeover deals, including the one involving Barnsley’s Championship rivals Nottingham Forest, bought by Kuwait’s wealthy Al-Hasawi family in the summer.

While all the off-the-field rumours have made for an unnecessary distraction this week, Hill insists he will not be keeping himself awake at night worrying about his managerial future, whether it be at Barnsley or any other club.

Hill, whose side have a golden chance to climb further up the Championship table with back-to-back home games against the bottom two of Ipswich Town and Peterborough United coming up, said: “There have been too many side-shows this week, which has been unfortunate because what is getting forgotten is the group of players and performances we had at the weekend.

“I don’t like the side-shows that accompany football and the political propaganda side that goes on within football; I cannot stand it in fact. What I do love about football is the pure side of it, the games and the sportsmanship and the will to challenge.

“To be honest, I have not really concerned myself with any of the other stuff; it is not really any of my business. I am contracted to the football club and just want to take care of footballing matters.

“I am not unduly concerned, but I do accept that if the club was to be taken over, obviously my position at the football club would be questionable.

“This is just another sideshow that really needs to be put to rest, one way or the other.”

Hill added: “I am just pleased with the progress we are making on the pitch. We have performed reasonably well all season, except for the Brighton game. But I never take anything for granted as a football manager; you just cannot.

“You are influenced by playing performances and results, that is what I do know.

“But I do not have any concerns over my future, whether it is at Barnsley or any other football club. I can always go back to working for a living...”

Meanwhile, Hill remains confident that he and trusty No 2 Flitcroft will achieve their footballing ambitions together in the wake of the latter reportedly rejecting interest from League One strugglers Bury – who yesterday appointed former Leeds and Sheffield United boss Kevin Blackwell – to stay at Barnsley.

Former Shakers player of the year Flitcroft, a favourite during his time as a gritty midfielder at Gigg Lane in his playing days, was thought to be at the top of the Bury board’s wish-list to become manager.

But Hill insists good friend Flitcroft is fully committed to Barnsley with the management duo – affectionately dubbed by Rochdale fans as ‘Hillcroft’ after inspiring a first promotion since 1969 at Spotland at the end of a never-to-be-forgotten 2010-11 campaign – set to stick together for a good while yet.

Hill added: “I don’t think the club (Bury) contacted Barnsley Football Club, although I know there were rumours and speculation regarding Flicker going back to Bury.

“But we have come a long way together and want to fulfil our ambitions together.

“I am sure Flicker will have his own ambitions and our football club would certainly never stand in Flicker’s way if he decided he wants to be a manager in his own right.

“We have done so much together and are best friends, first and foremost and will always remain friends. We are highly compatible in a footballing environment, so why change something that is working?

“If Flicker has got any intentions or thoughts about leaving, I am sure that I would be the first person, other than his wife and children, that he would be discussing it with.”

Cryne’s timeline in charge at Oakwell

2003: Current multi-millionaire owner Patrick Cryne, chief executive of Barnsley’s former sponsor iSoft, joins up with Peter Ridsdale to buy the Oakwell club for about £5.2m.

2004: Cryne and director Gordon Shepherd, plus Barnsley Council, take overall control after exit of Ridsdale. Shepherd retires as chairman at end of 2007-08 season.

2011: Cryne plans to sell the club due to health issues.

April 2012: Cryne in court accused of conspiring with colleagues at iSoft to give an inaccurate account of how the company was doing for own personal gain. Cryne to be tried at a later date due to illness.

September 2012: Barnsley approached by two potential buyers.