The Welsh Premier League will begin a new season in August without one of its most significant and successful figures. Ken McKenna, who has turned The New Saints FC into the dominant force in the game, has decided to step down and end a near ten-year association with the club.
McKenna pledged that there will be no weakening of his resolution to make it a record-equalling fourth successive league title for his side despite this week's surprise announcement. A recent home defeat by Carmarthen Town AFC has left them three points behind Llanelli AFC but the Liverpudlian is confident that they can overturn the deficit with the frontrunners still to play each other twice.
"The lads have responded positively to the announcement and I've told them I won't tolerate any slacking between now and the end of the season," McKenna said. "We've ten games left and we'll be trying to win every one. When I go it will be with a heavy heart as these are a fantastic group of players. People forget that this was my first job – I dived in at the deep end but things have worked out pretty well."
McKenna intends to take a break from the game then see what offers come his way. "It could be anything, working in an academy, working as a number two, it could be in Wales or in England somewhere. I'm very open-minded. It's a bit of a gamble but after this amount of time I need a change and the players are fed up listening to the same voice all the time. For the last seven years I've only had one or two weeks off in the summer because of our European commitments."
McKenna was a prolific goalscorer in his own playing days, firing 127 goals in 149 Welsh Premier appearances, including 22 from 27 games for TNS. The Shropshire club finished runners-up three times prior to their triple title triumph, appeared in Europe seven times, and won the Welsh Cup, FAW Premier Cup and Loosemores League Cup in the past three years.
Managing director Mike Harris stressed that the parting was amicable. "Ken has reached the stage of his career where he needs a new challenge to put everything he has learned with us to good use at a higher level," he said. "We will always be grateful for Ken's massive contribution to the club, not only with on-the-field successes, but in helping to develop our off-field coaching infrastructure."
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