Dewsbury Rams coach Neil Kelly to step down after Leigh game

Neil Kelly.  Picture Tony Johnson.
Neil Kelly. Picture Tony Johnson.

DEWSBURY RAMS coach Neil Kelly has confirmed he will step down after Sunday’s final game of the season at home to Leigh Centurions.

Restrictions on the club’s playing budget, limiting the ability to bring in quality signings to strengthen the squad, are behind Kelly’s decision.

The 56-year-old former Widnes and Wales boss returned to Rams last season, 16 years after his first spell in charge. He saved them from relegation in 2017 and they are set to finish eighth in the Betfred Championship this term.

Rams were beaten 26-22 at bottom club Rochdale Hornets two days ago, but Kelly’s decision was made before that result. He said: “I think the squad have underachieved this season and, as such, some players will have to move on in order to allow for team strengthening. However, I am becoming increasingly disillusioned with the budget provided to carry out this process. We are in the recruitment phase where clubs have the opportunity to retain and attract players of sufficient quality to make the team competitive. Failure to adequately carry out this process, I feel, will lead to a season of struggle for the Rams.

“I have some history with the club and I want us to get better year on year. We can’t make massive strides forward, but I want to improve the side and I think the budget restricts our ability to do that.”

Kelly stressed he has no personal issues with chairman Mark Sawyer. He added: “I’ve no problems if the club’s resources mean this is the best budget it can provide; that’s okay, but I choose not to stay with that budget. I respect Mark, he has been brilliant for the club and been good for me, but for us to improve we need a bigger budget. I feel I have done some really good things at Dewsbury, but one thing I don’t want to do is coach the side in a relegation season.”

Kelly will now take “a short period” out of the sport to concentrate on his family. He stressed: “I don’t see it as me retiring from coaching. Sooner or later, maybe around the turn off the year, I will look around for something else.”