SANDY Stewart has revealed why he turned down the opportunity to replace Owen Coyle as manager of St Johnstone and instead become his assistant at Burnley.

Stewart ended his spell at McDiarmid Park soon after leading the Saints to their Challenge Cup win over Dunfermline Athletic.

And although the board had hinted he would be first in line to take full-time charge, he admitted he couldn't resist the opportunity to experience the English Football League for the first time.

"When you're up in Scotland, you're looking at England, particularly the Championship and Premier League with envy.

"There's no doubt about it. And to get that opportunity, I think I would have regretted not coming," he said.

"Obviously I had to think long and hard about it.

"Owen came down on Thursday and asked me that night if I would like to come.

"I had Thursday to Sunday to think about it, and in between times I had to make sure the team were totally focused for the cup final.

"It was a tricky decision to come and bring my family down, and I'd never been down as a player, so it was difficult in that respect, but, football-wise I just felt it was too good an opportunity to turn down."

He added: "I'd been a manager myself for four-and-a-half years, and I enjoyed it, but I enjoyed being Owen's assistant at St Johnstone as well, so it was weighing up whether I wanted to be my own man again, or come down here at have success with Burnley.

"All in all, I'd made the decision by Sunday night, and I told the St Johnstone chairman and managing director that, before they considered me for the job, I was going to go to Burnley, so he could take my name off the list.

"They intimated that I could have had it, but I decided after the final I was going to go to Burnley and try something really exciting.

"St Johnstone is a good club, well run, and wanted to get in the Scottish Premier League.

"I've been a manager in Scotland, been an assistant, but I've never been down to England, so it's a really exciting challenge, and the draw was too much."

And Stewart admitted another major factor in his decision south of the border was continuing his working relationship with Coyle.

"I wouldn't have come down for many people, and the friendship and closeness we've got went a long way to deciding whether I came down," said the 42-year-old, who made Coyle his assistant at Airdrie United in November.

Roles were later reversed when he became the new Burnley boss's number two at St Johnstone in February.

"He has an enthusiasm and honesty, he's done it as a player, as an assistant and as a manager, and his passion for the game, his committment, is second to none.

"He's a great character, and one I can definitely relate to.

"The fact I've been a manager helps in situations, because I know there's a lot of stress and strains that go with managing a football club, and sometimes you can take things personally, so I'm there to provide a shoulder, but also I'd like to think I'll do a bit of coaching, although the manager is very hands-on.

"But we bounce things off each other.

"We have the same football philosophy.

"People have asked me before, 'do you have a lot of arguments about team selection?', but it's his team, and, believe it or not, I don't think we ever had one at St Johnstone or Airdrie.

"We talk it through, the pros and cons, and have similar opinions most of the time."