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Forest Green owner ‘let down’ by manner of Rob Edwards’ exit amid Watford talks

Rob Edwards looks set to take over at Watford next season (Martin Rickett/PA)
Rob Edwards looks set to take over at Watford next season (Martin Rickett/PA)

Forest Green chairman Dale Vince feels let down by Rob Edwards entering into negotiations with Watford over their managerial vacancy for next season behind the backs of the Sky Bet League Two champions.

Edwards helped guide Rovers to the League Two title, finishing ahead of Exeter on goal difference.

However, on Wednesday afternoon the club confirmed the 39-year-old had left his position as head coach following speculation over a proposed switch to the Hornets, with Roy Hodgson set to stand down at the end of the campaign.

Vince was left less than impressed by the developments, revealing he had called Edwards on Tuesday evening as speculation mounted.

“As soon as he started speaking, I knew that it was real,” Vince told Sky Sports News.

“(He told me) that he had been in negotiations (with Watford) and felt it was a great opportunity for him.

“Overwhelmingly for me the feeling was disappointment, because in football people come and go all of the time. The important thing is the manner of it.

“I wish him well, but it is poor from Watford, who claim to be starting a new era, and it is poor from Rob as well.

“He has let us down, but he knows it, so there it is, and we will move on.”

Watford, relegated after just one season back in the top flight, have been contacted for comment by the PA news agency following the announcement from Rovers.

A statement from the Gloucestershire club read: “FGR confirms the departure of head coach Rob Edwards.

“Rob was a key part of the team that gained promotion to League One this season.

“We’re disappointed that our support, loyalty and honesty towards Rob has been repaid in this way – with negotiations taking place behind our backs.

“We had no contact from Watford, from whom we might expect less, but in any event this kind of behaviour gives football a bad name.

“We thank Rob for all his work at FGR – forgive him the manner of his departure and wish him well.”

Forest Green Rovers owner Dale Vince celebrates after securing promotion
Forest Green chairman Dale Vince is determined the club will move on following promotion to League One (Simon Galloway/PA)

Vince stressed Rovers should have been approached by Watford initially, so negotiations could commence in the proper manner.

“Watford advised Rob not to tell us, specifically, so for me that doubles down on the deceit,” Vince said.

“It is the kind of thing which gives football a bad name and the kind of thing which shouldn’t happen, but occasionally does.

“I believe Watford have reached out today, so now there will be some more formal, more proper process to end Rob’s time here and for it to start at Watford.”

Rovers will now begin their own search to replace Edwards, who took over at the club during the summer of 2021.

“We have got a shortlist already and will just crack on with it,” Vince said.

“We will find another up-and-coming young coach who has got all the attributes we looked for in Rob and will go again. We just move on.

“It is hard not to let it take the shine off us what has happened, promotion and winning the title, but it won’t get in the way of what we do in the future because we will carry on operating in the way we do – open and honest with everybody.”

Vince added: “I think everything will be fine – and if there is karma in football, we will meet Watford in the Championship in a few years’ time.”