THE first round of phone calls that Gerry Britton made on Saturday night were the ones he dreaded. The second batch were more than expected.
Within minutes of Alan Archibald being informed that his services were no longer required at Partick Thistle, Britton, the chief executive, and chairman Jacqui Low were working way through their phonebooks.
Every player was told they no longer had a manager, every member of staff learned that the man who had spent two decades at Firhill had severed ties with the club where he made his name.
As the news filtered through the Jags support and the football world, Britton’s the calls started once again.
Within minutes of one era ending, the Thistle chief executive had to look forward and look to the future.
“Obviously football stands still for nobody and my phone had started ringing by 10 o’clock on Saturday night with agents putting forward names,” Britton said. “The application process began then and we have put a deadline of Friday for the applications to be in.
“At that stage, the board will sit down and consider. There have been a number of good quality applicants so far and it is an attractive job.
“There are so many things about this football club that someone would want to come and manage it. There has been no shortage of interest.”
The decision to sack Archibald was a difficult one to make for the Thistle board. In many ways, it was also an easy one.
Sentiment had to be put aside for the good of the team, personal feelings and allegiances had to be sacrificed to get the club back on track following their relegation to the Championship.
“It happens all the time in football and unfortunately that is just the nature of the game.,” Britton said of the call to remove a friend, a former team-mate and a Firhill legend from his position.
“Whether it is managers, staff, young players in the Academy when you are having to speak to them about not having contracts renewed, it is not pleasant. As I say, it is part and parcel of the game and I think it is about you deal with people and how you deliver news of that nature.
“Given the relationship that I have had with Alan over 20 years and the close relationship he had with the chairman, I think it was a good way if you are going to get bad news.”
The Thistle board will accept applications until the close of business on Friday before they start whittling the names down and compiling a shortlist.
From then, they must choose the right one as Thistle, ten points off the pace in the Championship, look to get their campaign back on track..
There has been interest in the position from near and far in the last couple of days. They don’t have a name, but the Jags do have a blueprint.
“There’s no magic formula in football,” Britton said. “But rather than pigeon-holing someone in terms of their age or experience, it’s a mind-set the club is looking at. It’s more a profile of a person we are looking for.
“How they want to develop players, how they want to develop the club, their ambitions. Rather than any Identikit person it’s more the characteristics we are looking for.”For the first time in more than five years, Thistle will have someone other than Archibald in the dugout when they take to the field on Saturday.
Britton will step back from being chief executive for, he hopes, one day only as Dundee United visit Firhill and the 47-year-old is excited at the unexpected opportunity.
“It’s a great buzz to work with players of this quality,” Britton said. “I love coaching and I loved my time at the Academy but I took the chief executive’s role and come away from that.
“So to get a few days with the trackie bottoms on – just as well they are elasticated bottom. But we trained in the p****** rain on Tuesday and the sun is splitting the skies on the day the boys are off. Sod’s law.
“I’m looking forward to working with the guys and it’s been great so far – but just for a couple of days.”