Pompey boss hunt goes on despite Barker’s Crawley exit

Crawley boss Richie Barker
Crawley boss Richie Barker
Gary Roberts. Picture: Sarah Standing (170841-4464)

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Pompey will not be calling off their manager hunt, despite the sudden availability of leading candidate Richie Barker.

The 38-year-old was yesterday surprisingly sacked by Crawley following a bitter argument over a budget cut.

The row saw the two-year contract he penned in the summer terminated with immediate effect, a timely development considering the Blues’ interest.

Regardless, The News understands the Pompey board intend to stick to recruitment plans to accept applications for Guy Whittingham’s former job until Tuesday, December 3.

The process will then see interviews held from December 5, with hopefully an appointment before facing Newport on December 14.

With no match until then due to Pompey’s elimination from the FA Cup, it will allow nine days to reach a decision.

The upshot is Barker’s hopes of becoming Blues boss are not as great as many believe at present.

However, the man appointed by chief executive Mark Catlin as Bury boss previously is, at present, the most realistic candidate to take over the Fratton hot seat.

In addition, there is the added attraction Pompey will not have to pay out compensation to another club for his services – an aspect which would have been a concern 24 hours ago.

Under terms of the Football League granting the Blues their ‘golden’ share to come out of administration in April, the club are unable to pay transfer fees for players.

Catlin believes that stipulation could also apply to compensation to clubs for a new manager.

Oxford boss Chris Wilder and Burton manager Gary Rowett have also been linked, although are under contract.

The alternative is to focus on out-of-work-managers.

However, The News understands Martin Allen has not applied yet, despite having been present at Fratton Park on Saturday.

Another fancied candidate, Neil Warnock, is believed to have ruled himself out of the running privately and yesterday was unwilling to talk to The News on the subject.

Others such as Andy Thorn, Jimmy Ball and Fitzroy Simpson have submitted applications, while Michael Appleton has shown interest.

Pompey’s board are meeting at Fratton Park this afternoon for the first time since Whittingham’s sacking to discuss the management position.

And speaking before Barker’s exit yesterday evening, Catlin praised the 38-year-old’s record.

He said: ‘I was involved in appointing Richie at Bury and he did a fantastic job, then left us for Crawley.

‘He was youth team coach, then came in when Alan Knill left for Scunthorpe with eight games to go.

‘He won six on the bounce, got promoted and then we had a successful season in mid-table on one of the smallest budgets in League One.’