Stanley boss Paul Cook will be unveiled as the new manager of Chesterfield today.
Cook has signed a two-and-a-falf year deal with the Spireites after the two League Two rivals agreed a compensation package. The Reds are expected to receive a six-figure compensation fee for Cook.
Assistant Leam Richardson is expected to take charge of the Stanley team for Saturday’s home clash with Bristol Rovers although it’s believed Cook may also want Richardson to join him at the Proact Stadium.
Stanley physio Les Parry, the former Tranmere manager, is not under contract with the Reds but is also expected to be in the Stanley dug-out on Saturday.
The rumours started on Monday of the Spireites’ interest in the 45-year-old Stanley boss.
By Tuesday they had gathered pace with the manager taking charge of what should prove to be the final match of his fledgling Stanley career – a 1-0 defeat to York.
Cook didn’t appear for the press conference after the game and by Wednesday morning, it was confirmed that Chesterfield had made an official approach for the Stanley boss.
Chairman Peter Marsden spent all day on Wednesday negotiating a compensation package with Chesterfield as Cook has only been in charge of the Reds for eight months – and still has two-and-a-half years to run on his current deal.
"It did come as a surprise," said managing director Rob Heys, who helped to appoint Cook in February after long-serving boss John Coleman left to join Rochdale.
"It would have been nice to have Paul Cook at the club longer as I really believe it could have been a special time at the club and Paul has been a pleasure to work with.
"But we always knew Paul was ambitious and, like John Coleman before him, we would never stand in anyone’s way.
"Managers, like players, want to operate at the highest level they can and if they come here, improve us and improve themselves and then move on then we can only wish them well.
"It was no surprise to us that Paul was attracting interest. He had done fantastically well at Sligo, he is well known in football and, up until a couple of weeks ago, we were in the promotion spots.
"We knew clubs would be looking at him and we are only sorry it has been so brief, should the deal be finalised."
Coleman was in charge of the Reds for 13 years before Cook took over for a brief eight-month spell. "It’s still a new manager every six years," smiled Heys who will now step up the hunt, along with Marsden, for a new Reds manager.
Richardson is the favourite but his own future remains up in the air.
"We need to sit down and talk to Leam," said Heys.
"It has obviously all happened quickly this week but we would hope that Leam would want to carry on the work he and Paul have begun.
"It would be great if he stayed on and helped to take the team forward but, if he goes, then we wish him well too and look elsewhere.
"You want managers here for the long-term and Paul had begun putting things in place and now we hope whoever comes in will carry it on.
"Just because one man has left there is no reason to think everything will suddenly stop."
Several players admitted they are ‘gutted’ by Cook’s imminent departure with striker Padraig Amond and frontman Rommy Boco tempted back to the club by Cook being the man in charge of the Reds.
"It’s a real shock," said captain Luke Joyce. "None of us expected it and it has happened really quickly.
"But we wish him well and, as a group, we now have to stick together and hopefully get a win on Saturday."
Stanley have lost four on the bounce but the last time Richardson was in charge, when Coleman left in January, he helped them to a 4-3 win over Gillingham.
"It we can do that again, it would be nice," added Joyce.
Richardson, who has a young family, does have a tough decision to make as to whether to stay at the club or go with Cook to Chesterfield.
The assistant, who is still registered as a player, is the longest serving player at the Crown Ground, being there since 2005.
STANLEY travel to Evo-Stik side AFC Fylde in the first round of the FA Cup on Saturday, November 3.