Gala Fairydean Rovers FC have announced the appointment of Neil Hastings as first team manager for the forthcoming 2019-20 season.
The news came just days after the surprise departure of Dean Shanks, who led the club to a mid-table finish in the Lowland League in his first full season of management, along with an appeareance in round three of the Scottish Cup.
New man Hastings (27) will be joined in the Netherdale dug-out by his former Livingston FC colleague Eddie Mangan, who is taking over the role as head coach.
ALso under the backroom shake-up at Netherdale, ex-Fairydean Rovers player Shane Greene, the current Under 15s coach, is the club’s new director of football.
Hastings, meanwhile, has been a coach at Hearts Under 17s, head of youth and first team coach at Livingston and, more recently, assistant manager at Cowdenbeath and Berwick Rangers.
He said:”I am delighted to be given the opportunity to take the club forward and want to continue to build on the work that has been done at the club over the last few years.
“I am under no illusions of how competitive the Lowland League is going to be this year, especially when you look at some of the signings the other clubs have already made.
“I want to build an energetic and young hungry squad that entertains the fans with a style of play, and also create a team that the town can be proud of.
“I can’t wait for the pre-season to start so we can get on to the training pitch and start working towards the first league game.”
The appointment has been welcomed by Gala Fairydean Rovers Ambassador of Football, John Collins, who knows Hastings well from his time at Livingston.
He said:”Neil was part of our coaching team at Livingston when I was the director of football there. He was involved in the under 17s and reserves and often assisted with the first team as a coach.
“Neil is an excellent coach and has a good way about him. He coaches nice, attractive football and I think he will be an excellent signing for Gala Fairydean Rovers. I look forward to seeing his team playing next season.”
The club confirmed it had “parted company” with 33-year-old manager Dean Shanks, who had previous managerial experience with Hawick Royal Albert before he came to GFR, and hinted the decision was down to a change of direction at Netherdale.
In a statement, Gala FR said: “The club would like to thank Dean and his management team for all their hard work over the course of last season and wish them all the very best for the future.
“Under Dean’s management, Gala Fairydean Rovers finished a respectable eighth position in the highly competitive Lowland League and were extremely unfortunate to depart from the Scottish Cup at the third-round stage.
“But, in order to compete at the highest level, a difficult decision has been made to opt for a change of direction for season 2019-20.”
Shanks said earlier today (Thursday) he was “shocked” and “gutted” to be relieved of his duties but hoped to be back in the game soon, and wished the club all the best.
“The club have decided to go in a different direction, so they go with all my well wishes,” he added. “Hopefully, we have given them a platform to go and push on even further, and there are some great people down there in Gala.”