John Still is to stand down as Maidstone United’s Head of Football this summer.
The three-time Conference-winning boss will leave the Gallagher at the end of his 18-month deal, with Head Coach Hakan Hayrettin taking the lead on all first-team matters. The handover has already begun, with Hayrettin overseeing the final weeks of this season, alongside planning for the new campaign, which will include additions to his management team and playing squad.
Still said: “When I agreed to come back, I wanted Hak to be part of that and to eventually pass the baton to him. Maidstone was always unfinished business for me and I am delighted to have had the opportunity to come in and renew my association with the club.
“While this time was never going to compete with my first spell here, I hope that along with the owners, Bill, Hak and Ryan, we’ve put things in place that will eventually get the club back up a division and push on from there. I might have been the first to take Maidstone into the Football League but if everyone pulls in the same direction, I certainly won’t be the last.”
The man who took the Stones into the Football League 30 years ago came out of retirement last January to return to the club where he won the first of those three Conference titles. In a distinguished managerial career spanning 40 years, he took charge of more than 2,000 games.
Chief executive Bill Williams said: “If, as I suspect, this is John’s last hurrah in football management, I am very glad it was with us. To have had the benefit of his experience, knowledge and know-how will stand us in good stead in the months ahead.
“While I’ve known John more years than either of us care to remember, Hakan was a new prospect, but over the last 15 months I’ve got to see his desire, passion and work ethic and it’s those traits I’ve come to admire and respect, and I will give him every ounce of support I possibly can.”
Club co-owner Oliver Ash said: “John brought us much needed experience and stability. We thank him for that and he will always have our affection and respect. Now it’s time to look ahead, finish this season strongly and plan for next season.
“We have decided to give Hakan the opportunity to take over and lead us into next season. The aim is to reinforce our squad and take us higher, as well as to work with our academy and Under-23s to bring young, local talent through wherever possible.
“We have also been considering our training schedules. After much reflection we have decided to stick to daytime training. We feel on balance it will be less disruptive, should allow us to attract strong players to the club given a reasonable budget and we should be better prepared for promotion back to the National League as and when.”
With ten games of this season to play, Maidstone under Hayrettin will be going all out for a place in the National League South play-offs.
Hayrettin said: “I am grateful to John for bringing me here last January and grateful to the club for the opportunity to take it into next season. Working with John over the years has been an immense privilege.
“There aren’t many in this game that command the respect that he does. If I can achieve just a fraction of what he has, then I’ll be a proud man.
“I am very aware of the expectations of this club and I’ll promise you one thing – I will give my all for the cause and so will the team I surround myself with.”
Still and Hayrettin first joined forces at Luton Town in 2014, weeks after the Stones Head Coach had won the Isthmian North championship with Grays Athletic. The pair won the Conference title at the first attempt and narrowly missed out on the League Two play-offs the following season.
As a player, Hayrettin won two Conference titles, an FA Trophy winner’s medal and was part of the Wycombe Wanderers side that was promoted to League One via the play-offs.