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Airbus UK Broughton: Andy Preece unveiled as Wingmakers new director of football

ANDY Preece has stunned local non-league football fans by leaving high-flying Northwich Victoria to take over at Airbus UK Broughton.

The Welsh Premier club unveiled the former Bury boss to the public this week on a three-year contract as director of football, replacing the departed Craig Harrison.

He leaves behind a club that, though wrestling with off-the-field problems, was challenging for promotion in the Evo-Stik Northern Premier League and was confident of reaching the latter stages of the FA Trophy.

He has swapped that for the Wingmakers, who this season cannot finish higher than seventh in the Welsh Premier, but he admitted that short-term success was not his motivation.

“I’m excited by the role,” he said. “I can’t wait to get started. Our first match is on Friday so you’re straight into it.

“Halfway through the season you don’t get to plan things. We will have to learn things really quick but we’ve been in that situation before where we’ve gone into a club mid season and finished really, really strong so if we can repeat that who knows what we could do by the end of the season.

“But it’s not like we’re going to come in in the short term and say we’re going to do this and this and that, it’s about a long-term plan and we’re looking forward to that.

“A big attraction is testing yourself in Europe against the best coaches in the world. How often will you get that opportunity unless you’re in the top six in the Premiership in England or Scotland you don’t get that opportunity.

“We have an opportunity, if we’re successful, to do that and that will be the challenge.”

Preece is used to challenging near the top. He leaves Northwich second in NPL Premier Division and in the third round of the FA Trophy, with a possible Wembley appearance.

The 44-year-old’s record at the club saw him win 90 and draw 35 of his 168 games in charge.

But Northwich’s future is shrouded in uncertainty. Hours after Preece announced his departure, they were told to vacate their Victoria Stadium home after the land on which their ground sits was sold to a mystery bidder.

So when Airbus commercial director Stewart Roberts offered the chance to lead a stable, growing football club, Preece an his coaching team decided to make the switch.

“Key to the decision to come here that we had a platform to build on and we could build something over a number of years,” said former striker Preece, whose playing career took in spells with Wrexham, Stockport County and Crystal Palace.

“That’s how Stewart sold the club to us, that it was a long term project.

“We haven’t been in that position before. Clubs I’ve been in charge with before have always had problems and I think this club’s on a stable footing but with potential.

“To leave a team that was second in the league with a chance of getting to the quarter finals of the FA trophy is not an easy decision so you can tell what I think of the ambitions at this football club.

“It was a long term view rather than a short term view. There’s loads of different circumstances that make a decision and I spoke to Andy and Darren and we’ve made that decision between us that this was right and to have a club show as much faith as what Airbus have is a great feeling for all the coaching staff.”

With Gareth Owen leaving the club Preece brings with him assistants Andy Morrison and former Airbus coach Darren Ryan, also retaining Andy Thomas as a coach.

But while Airbus have shown faith in their new boss, there will not be lots of cash thrown at him. His budget remains identical to Harrison’s with the promise that any cash generated from transfers will go straight back into the team.

“Contrary to reports we haven’t got huge amounts of money as a budget so to break the mould of the top six and maybe into the top four we needed to do something different as a football club,” said Roberts.

“Rather than trying to attract players from the Welsh Premier as a rule, our geographic location here on the border with England and Andy and his team’s experience in the English system means that we should be able to pull players from that side to complement what we’ve got.”

Preece takes charge of his first Airbus game tomorrow (Friday) when the Wingmakers entertain Bala Town in the League Cup (7.30pm).