KELTY HEARTS have begun the search for a new manager to lead them into the SPFL after Barry Ferguson quit the club.

The 43-year-old, who arrived at New Central Park as Thomas Courts’ replacement in October 2018, informed the club that he would be leaving after guiding them into League Two for the first time in their history on Sunday.

Captain Michael Tidser’s goal gave Kelty a 1-0 win at Brechin City, and a 3-1 aggregate victory, to complete a remarkable rise from junior football to the fourth tier.

Ferguson was coy on his future afterwards, hailing his squad as “a special group”, and that “whatever happens in the future, I’ll always remember this moment”.

Less than 24 hours later, speculation began to mount that he would be leaving and, by Monday evening, the club had confirmed he would not extend his stay when his contract expires at the end of the month.

After guiding Kelty to third place in his first season, Ferguson has today (Thursday) been confirmed as the new boss at Alloa Athletic after guiding Kelty to two successive Lowland League titles in seasons cut short due to COVID-19.

READ MORE: Barry Ferguson confirmed as Alloa Athletic manager

Club secretary, Garry Grandison, told Press Sport: “The gaffer came in three years ago and asked us what we wanted him to achieve.

“We told him we wanted SPFL football, and he’s done it.

“He’s got us to where we wanted to be.

“Obviously, it would’ve been great if he wanted to extend his stay. We appreciated the decision that he made that he wanted to move on, and we’ve just got to thank him and Bob (Malcolm, Ferguson’s assistant) for what they did in the three years they were here.

“They’ve been absolutely superb and we wish them well wherever they go.

“I can’t fault the job the guys and the management team have done. These things happen in football; we’ve just got to accept that’s the situation we’re in now, and we move on to the next chapter.

“We’ve reached that stage of the journey we wanted but the journey’s got to continue.”

At the end of the match at Glebe Park, Ferguson said: “I’m just going to enjoy the moment, that’s all.

“It’s been a long 33 months but I knew if we kept at it, and I was building a good team, that if we got that opportunity to get into the play-off we would take it.

“They’re a special group and, whatever happens in the future, I’ll always remember this moment.”

l More coverage, pages 36-37, 54-55