Gateshead have named former Newcastle United defender Mike Williamson as the club’s new manager, with Ian Watson returning as assistant manager.
Williamson – who made over 30 appearances for the Heed last season in a player-coach role – will now adopt a player-manager position and be assisted by former Blyth Spartans defender Watson.
The 35-year-old former Premier League defender joined Gateshead last summer from League One side Oxford United and made a big impact in his debut season at non-league level, picking up the National League player of the month for October 2018.
Now Williamson has agreed a new deal at Gateshead which not only sees him promoted to first-team manager but also become his first official player signing in charge, subject to FA and National League ratification.
“I’m very excited to be the new manager of Gateshead,” said the former Newcastle United defender.
“Last season was thoroughly enjoyable, I really loved it and got a good taste of the coaching side of things and it’s something I have always wanted to do.
“I still get to be involved on the pitch as well so it will be fantastic for my personal development but also for the lads that we can bring in and create the same sort of environment that we did last season.
“I still feel that I’ve got a lot to give as a player and feel as fit as ever. I found that I could have a really good influence on the team coaching from within as well as on the sidelines. I’m just going to keep pushing and giving everything that I’ve got as I have done throughout my career.
“I aim to be a manager that improves people and creates a highly competitive environment but I want the players who come here to know that I will do everything I can to improve them and people and players.
“It’s very important to myself because I want this team to be successful but for me it’s about creating a squad of players who are highly professional and compete but the bottom line is that we’re going to enjoy it because if you’re not enjoying things there is no point but if you are then you really apply yourself.
“Gateshead is a fantastic club with a great group of fans and I’ll always believe that as a manager and player you’re a custodian of the football club because it’s the fans who are the real owners and essence of the club at the end of the day.
“It has been proven here because the way this club has been saved is just a true testament to the fans and people of Gateshead.
“After speaking with Neil (Pinkerton) it was an easy decision for me to come back because I could see the vision and the stability of the club and the rest was a no-brainer really.
“I feel I know more than anybody just what football means to the people up here on Tyneside and that for me is the biggest element because I want to try and grow the club as much as I can in the community.
“Having Ian on board is fantastic as well, we’re looking to put together a squad of homegrown players that want to play for Gateshead Football Club and Ian is key to that with his contacts, passion and ambition for football in the area.
“Playing in the National League North is what it is and we accept that but with everything that has gone on we are just really pleased that the football club still exists and the fact that we’re still a professional outfit operating at a good level is a miracle.
“At the minute it’s very early doors but the aim is to get the club back into the National League as soon as possible.
“Now that the future of the club is stable and secure, it’s about building a competitive squad and myself and Ian will be working relentlessly over the summer to try and do that.”
The processes necessary for renewal of the club’s licence are expected to be completed within the next week or so. Meanwhile, Williamson and Watson’s ability to sign players is unaffected.