Sporting director Kelly leaves County after just season and a half in new role

GEGANGEN: Der ehemalige Newport County AFC Sportdirektor Darren Kelly <i>(Image: Huw Evans Agency)</i>” src=”–/YXBwaWQ9aGlnaGxhbmRlcjt3PTk2MDtoPTY0MA–/” data src=”–/YXBwaWQ9aGlnaGxhbmRlcjt3PTk2MDtoPTY0MA–/”/</div>
<p><figcaption class=GONE: Former Newport County AFC athletic director Darren Kelly (Image: Agency Huw Evans)

SPORTING Director Darren Kelly has left Newport County AFC after a year and a half in that role.

Opting for a new model in Summer 2021, the Exiles chose the Irishman to work with manager Michael Flynn, who departed two months into the season.

Kelly then played a leading role in the appointment of James Rowberry, who was in charge of Rodney Parade for just under a year.

The sporting director, who was formerly a manager at Oldham, Halifax, Hyde and Scarborough, was responsible for the first-team for the League Two defeat at Crawley and the win over Southampton Under-21s in the EFL Trophy after the boss was sacked.

Current manager Graham Coughlan was appointed in mid-October and now Kelly, who was based in the north of England rather than at Spytty Park’s training base, has left for what the club are calling “a new opportunity closer to home”.

Whether the exiles will proceed with the sporting director model – under which Kelly was responsible for a “robust recruitment, development and retention strategy” – remains to be seen.

Coughlan and his assistant Joe Dunne worked closely during the January transfer window with recruitment specialist Chris Finn, who previously worked as a scout at Nottingham Forest, Cardiff, Norwich, Middlesbrough and Birmingham.

Luke Hussey was appointed academy manager last autumn and the former Bristol City manager will be tasked with navigating the journey from senior football to the first team.

Earlier this month, Coughlan specifically commended the efforts of a number of backroom staff who helped him during the January window.

“I have to mention [head of safeguarding and interim general manager] Kelly Anderson, [club secretary] Gareth Evans and [recruitment worker] Chris Finn for her input,” the manager said.

“They have done everything for me and Joe for the past few weeks in the January transfer window.

“You’re in the background – and might embarrass yourself at a little mention! – but they are brilliant.

“They stepped on the plate and there are really good people at this club who are assembling the troops.

“They can’t do enough – they do everything except pick the team!”

It’s been a month of change off the field at County after Miami-based businessman Jon Pratt was added to the board.

The Exiles announced on Monday that Pratt has joined his hometown club as a co-opted director.

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