YORK CITY chairman Jason McGill last night vehemently denied that Jackie McNamara has any financial involvement with the club amid suggestions this had played a part in the Scot’s unusual job swap.
The 42-year-old has been appointed as the Minstermen’s chief executive – less than a week after stepping down as manager.
Gary Mills, who led York to a promotion and FA Trophy double in 2012, succeeded McNamara at the helm of the team but it is the former Scotland international’s switch that raised eyebrows in the wider football world.
Among City supporters already anti-McNamara following last season’s relegation from the Football League and the poor start this time around, the move was greeted with incredulity.
Rumours, already circulating in the city before the weekend turn of events, that McNamara had some form of financial stake in the club that precluded his departure gained credence as a result.
However, when this was put to chairman McGill by The Yorkshire Post, he quickly rubbished the notion.
“Jackie definitely doesn’t have any financial involvement with York City,” he said before last night’s Cup replay with Curzon Ashton. “None whatsoever. It is an insult to Jackie and to me to suggest otherwise.
“Not only does Jackie not have any financial involvement in the club, nor would I want him to have. To do so would put us both, and the club, in an invidious position.
“I would never allow a financial aspect to influence any decision making, either now or in the future. I appreciate there is always a rumour mill surrounding any club. But, in this instance, it is well wide of the mark.”
McNamara is far from the first manager to move into the boardroom but few who have made the transition did so just a few days after being sacked by the same club.
When asked about the unusual turn of events, McGill added: “When Jackie was appointed last year, it was with a view to overhauling the club. Not just the first team but the Academy, the communication strategy and the administration side.
“This club has changed dramatically since Gary was last here and we needed a chief executive. This is a vitally important period as we count down towards the new stadium in 2018.”
While McNamara’s switch to chief executive caused consternation among supporters, the return of Mills has been welcomed. With good cause, too, as it was the former European Cup winner who led York back into the Football League in May, 2012 via the play-offs just eight days after lifting the FA Trophy.
McGill added: “There is a lot of disunity at the club, in terms of the supporter base. We need to be united as a club, and Gary can help achieve that.
“But that isn’t just why Gary has been appointed. The main reason is football. His win ratio at this level is almost 43 per cent. It didn’t work out at Wrexham, as we know.
“But you look at his time at Gateshead, who he got to the play-offs and Wembley, and his time with York City and Gary clearly knows what is needed to get a club going.
“His motivation is simply to win football games. Gary spoke to the players on Sunday and he didn’t go into a long spiel about the past. His focus was on the future, and the need for some grit and determination to be instilled.”
Funds will be provided for Mills to start overhauling a squad that sits just six places off the foot of the National League.
“We are all in this together,” said McGill, who met Mills on his own following the latter’s sacking by Wrexham on Thursday before then being joined at a second meeting on Saturday night by McNamara.
“At that first meeting between Gary and myself, it was obvious he wanted to be here. I’ll be honest and say the interview process was well under way when Gary was released by Wrexham. I had conducted a couple of interviews already.
“But then Gary got in touch with our club secretary, and asked if he could speak to the chairman. I was happy to meet and we had a very good chat.
“He sees York City as being the right fit. Even when he had been to York shopping with his wife over the past few years, he got quite emotional at the memories. He has a big attachment to York and York City.
“Gary also says there is unfinished business for him here.”
On Saturday’s meeting with Mills at a hotel in Skelton that was also attended by McNamara, McGill added: “It is quite unusual for an outgoing manager to be able to give his assessment on players to the new manager so we felt it advantageous for Jackie to sit down with Gary, considering the Cup tie was on Monday night.
“Time was tight and rather than Gary have just one training session to get to know the players, Jackie passed on his thoughts about the squad.”