Manager Jay Saunders has left Maidstone United by mutual consent.

Maidstone United

Saunders had been heavily linked to the Macclesfield Town job in the summer following John Askey’s departure, but he remained with Maidstone. He spoke of the summer as an especially difficult period, as he deliberated over where his future lay.

With two National League wins from his first seven games this season, Saunders has agreed to part company with the club.

Chief executive Bill Williams said: “This is a day none of us wanted to come but collectively we’ve decided to go our separate ways.

“In 60 years of football, this is one of the toughest decisions I’ve been involved with. I count Jay as a friend and have the utmost respect for what he’s achieved here at the football club.

“Jay has become synonymous with Maidstone United over recent years and his place in our club’s history is assured. His influence went beyond the first team to the academy, player development centres and soccer schools.

“He will always have a special place at the club, we thank him for everything he’s done and wish him the very best in wherever his football journey takes him next. We hope that part of that might be with us as we would like to continue a relationship with him going forward.”

Assistant manager Steve Watt will be in caretaker charge for at least Saturday’s away match at Gateshead and next Tuesday’s home fixture against Sutton United.