Livingston were last night coming to terms with the “absolute devastation” of losing manager John Hughes to English League One club Hartlepool United.
The 48-year-old completed a shock move to the League One strugglers, replacing outgoing boss, and compatriot, Neale Cooper. He leaves Livingston after just nine months in charge, having been appointed alongside director of football John Collins in February – with the pair seeking to bring free-flowing, passing football and a focus on youth to West Lothian.
Livingston have confirmed that they do not envisage any other members of the coaching staff following their departing manager south of the Border, while Collins will also continue in his role at the club.
Gareth Evans, the club’s first-team coach since July, will take charge of the Almondvale outfit for this weekend’s encounter against Falkirk, with the First Division club insisting their is no rush to find a successor due to the stability of the staff left behind.
Livingston chief executive Ged Nixon pulled no punches yesterday, suggesting he was disappointed with the brief nature of Hughes’ tenure but he admitted the departure had been amicable. Nixon said: “We are absolutely devastated to be losing John as our manager. He has brought this club a new playing structure and, with the kids he has brought into the team, given us new hope for the future. It is hugely disappointing to be losing a manager of his calibre, and, although we always knew there was scope for him to move, we hoped it would not be this quickly.
“He goes with our best wishes, and our loss is Hartlepool’s gain. We always knew John had aspirations to manage in England, and we can have no complaints when he decides to take that opportunity.”
Collins, speaking following the shock departure, agreed with Nixon that the pair have put Livingston on an exciting footing.
He said: “While John leaving us is a blow, I’m as determined as ever to continue the job we’ve started together at Livingston.
“There’s progress being made all the time, from developing our youngest kids to improving the first team squad, and with or without John that work will continue.”
Hughes will immediately be plunged into a battle for survival, with Hartlepool currently bottom of the table, nine points adrift of safety. Hartlepool chief executive Russ Green said: “Everybody knows that this appointment was a crucial one for the club, so we have taken our time, assessed our options and John is the choice we are all extremely happy with.
“He has a vision for the football club, he has a passion and a drive to succeed, and we hope that the fans will be as excited as we have to have him in place.”