ACCRINGTON Stanley managing director Rob Heys has revealed that Leam Richardson is set to be offered the chance to become the club’s new manager – providing he does not follow Paul Cook to Chesterfield.

Cook’s Stanley exit was confirmed last night as Chesterfield announced his appointment as their new manager, 24 hours after compensation was agreed between the two clubs.

Cook’s assistant Richardson has been put in caretaker charge for tomorrow’s home game against Bristol Rovers, with the 32-year-old taking training yesterday.

The Reds are keen to get the weekend fixture out of the way before appointing a replacement to Cook but Richardson impressed while in temporary charge following John Coleman’s departure and Heys says he will be given first refusal of the job.

Richardson has expressed his ambition to move into management but still faces a decision because he is wanted by Cook at Chesterfield.

Heys said: “I think it would only be fair to Leam to offer him the first opportunity at it.

“We’ll get Saturday’s game out of the way and then we’ll have a sit down with him and talk about things.

“It was a shock that Paul left and it is sad that he won’t finish what he started.

“When John Coleman left he was the first person on our list. But it is only one man and we will carry on.

“He has put a lot of things in place here and I hope Leam stays now and can take that on.

“From a selfish point of view you’d like to think he will decide to stay, but you also have to consider that if Chesterfield come in with an offer to double or treble his wages then anyone would be tempted by that.

“But he is in caretaker charge and he did a good job as caretaker last time.

“I think he is more than capable of stepping up to the role.

“I know he has a lot of affection for the club.”

Stanley are understood to have secured a five-figure compensation deal for Cook, less than reported elsewhere.

Reds chairman Peter Marsden admitted talks with Chesterfield were ‘damage limitation’, insisting Cook had made his intention to leave clear – only eight months after taking charge.

Marsden was also full of praise for Richardson, although a board meeting will be held tomorrow before any final decision is made.

“I’ve got a very high opinion of Leam and really value his loyalty to Accrington,” Marsden said.

“The board are going to sit down on Saturday and discuss our views on the way forward.

“Undoubtedly we tried to keep Paul but he was 100 per cent clear that he wanted to take this opportunity.

“When you’re in that situation it has to be resolved quickly because there is training and matches, and the players have to be in the right frame of mind.

“Paul has done a good job for us. At Accrington we are realists. This is a club that offers people an opportunity and if they do well they put themselves in the shop window.

“I did think he would do a very good job and that eventually he would move on.

“I probably didn’t think it would happen this quickly, I thought it would maybe be in two years’ time.”

It is understood that there is no clause into the compensation deal preventing Cook from returning to sign players in January, as was the case when John Coleman left for Rochdale earlier this year.

But Stanley hopes Richardson’s continued presence will help them to hang on to players.