Former Leeds boss Blackwell is man to succeed Clark, Warnock tells Town

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KEVIN BLACKWELL has emerged as a serious contender to become Huddersfield Town’s next manager as the club’s losses for the last financial year can be revealed as £4.1m.

The Terriers sacked Lee Clark on Wednesday after losing faith in the 39-year-old’s ability to deliver automatic promotion from League One.

Town have twice been beaten in the play-offs under Clark, who throughout his 38-month reign was backed significantly in the transfer market by chairman Dean Hoyle.

As the extent of that financial support was underlined via the club’s accounts being delivered to Companies House, former Leeds and Sheffield United manager Kevin Blackwell has emerged as a possible replacement for Clark.

The Yorkshire Post understands the 53-year-old one-time Huddersfield assistant has been recommended to the board by Neil Warnock.

Town had sounded out their former manager about a possible return on Thursday but the chance to take charge of Leeds United or Wolverhampton Wanderers meant he said ‘no’.

In doing so, however, Warnock told the Terriers that the ideal man to deliver promotion this season is Blackwell, who since leaving Bramall Lane just two games into last term has been out of work.

Ironically, it was a 3-0 defeat to Warnock’s QPR that brought an end to Blackwell’s time with the Blades just 15 months after leading the South Yorkshire club to the Championship play-off final.

United’s defeat to Burnley was the second time Blackwell has led a Yorkshire club to within touching distance of the Premier League after his Leeds side lost to Watford in the 2006 promotion decider.

Another former Elland Road manager, Simon Grayson, is interested in a job that, thanks to the backing of Hoyle, is one of the most highly-sought after in the Football League.

Huddersfield are not in action this weekend due to Stevenage’s involvement in the FA Cup fifth round, meaning next week’s home clash with Exeter City will be the first game of the post-Clark era.

The target remains promotion, a point Hoyle has underlined following the publishing of the club’s accounts by revealing that an even bigger loss than the £4.1m for 2010-11 is expected this season.

He said: “While I remain fully committed to provide the funding required to support this trading strategy again in 2011-12, ever growing losses and increasing total football costs are not sustainable.

“Critical to this is promotion.”

Town posted a huge loss despite turnover rising to an all-time high of £7.9m in the 12 months to May 31, 2011, thanks to a lucrative FA Cup run that included a fourth round visit to Arsenal.

Even without the benefit of the Cup run and proceeds from the Terriers reaching the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy Northern Area final, the club’s income grew by 22 per cent to £5.86m.

Part of that was down to the commercial department managing to increase their own turnover by 30 per cent, while season ticket income also rose by 17 per cent.

The reason for the overall shortfall of £4.1m – which did represent an improvement on a loss of £4.7m on the previous year – was that spending on players’ wages, transfers, scouting and other football costs grew by 29 per cent to £7.29m.

Not included in the figures are the summer transfers that saw Lee Peltier move to Leicester City and Anthony Pilkington join Norwich City for a combined fee of around £2.5m.

As Town’s search for a new manager continues, Academy coach Mark Lillis has been handed the first-team reins.

He said: “Wednesday was an emotional day but I held a meeting with the players and then took training. Their response was just what I was looking for.”