East Kilbride are searching for their fifth manager in six years after Billy Stark signalled his intention to step down in order to take up a full-time role elsewhere.
The shock news came stunned Kilby chiefs, and came just hours after the Lowland League runners-up insisted Stark would be staying on to lead the side next season.
The former Celtic and Scotland Under-21 coach took the reins in June last year with a view to securing Kilby’s promotion to the Scottish Professional Football League, but they lost out to Spartans on a final day of drama.
Dougie Samuel’s side lost 5-2 on aggregate to Highland League champions Cove Rangers, despite winning 2-1 at Ainslie Park last night.
Despite Stark’s surprise departure, he has already signed two players for next season and is understood to have been well into his preparations for the 2018/19 campaign.
But he told the squad last night, who had turned up to K-Park to discuss contracts, that he would be stepping down after an opportunity presented itself late last week.
Stark is believed to be staying on for a while yet to ensure a smooth transition, and said in a statement that he had “really enjoyed” his 11 months at the helm.
He added: “It’s a very healthy club and it’s definitely on the way up. My one regret is that I can’t stay to see them going into the SPFL, but an opportunity has arisen which I cannot dismiss.”
A spokesperson for the club said they “understod and respected” Stark’s decision.
One option the club have is to install Stark’s No. 2 Craig Young, who himself was promoted from the club’s Under-20s last season, initially on a temporary basis that became permanent in late July.