DARLINGTON are unconcerned by the threat of potential legal action after Blyth Spartans announced they are taking advice from their lawyers following Alun Armstrong’s decision to switch clubs.

Armstrong was appointed as Quakers’ manager today, moving from the fellow National League North club where he had been in position for almost three full seasons and enjoyed success.

He led the club to promotion in his first year, and then achieved league positions of tenth and sixth in consecutive seasons, the latter being Blyth’s highest ever finish.

Despite his efforts for Spartans, or perhaps because of them, his departure to Darlington has not been popular at Croft Park.

Darlington made Armstrong’s appointment official at 8am, and at 3pm Blyth released a statement saying: “Alun Armstrong informed Blyth Spartans Association Football Club on Sunday, May 19 that he intended to leave the club while under contract.

“The club is currently considering its position, taking legal advice, and will make no comment about Alun’s departure, at this stage.

“The search for a new manager now starts and the board will continue to work in the best interests of the club to ensure that its objectives for next season are protected.”

The Northern Echo understands that Blyth had told Darlington they wanted compensation before Armstrong would be permitted to leave Croft Park, where he signed a two-year contract 12 months ago.

Armstrong then tendered his resignation on Monday, leading to Quakers announcing this morning that he is their choice to replace Tommy Wright, but also saying he will not officially begin his employment until next week.

“We have announced he is our new manager because he has resigned, but he will not start work until Monday,” Darlington chief executive David Johnston said.

“Darlington have acted impeccably throughout this process.”

Quakers feel they have conducted business appropriately, and say they were granted permission by Blyth chairman Tony Platten to speak to Armstrong after he applied for the post three weeks ago.

Armstrong was one of 72 applicants, and once he starts work on Monday will waste little time in bringing in players to Darlington with some expected to be from Blyth, who have already lost two key players since the end of last season.

“He’s got a lot of North-East contacts from his time in the professional game, and he’s a well-known name in North-East football so I’m sure there will be a lot of players looking to play for him,” added Johnston, who revealed that former England manager Steve McClaren assisted in the process as Darlington sought a successor to Wright.

John Vickerman, a Darlington supporter and human resources director with Fujitsu by trade, was tasked with leading the process to appoint a manager, with McClaren and Johnston also involved, while supporters were consulted for their view too.

Johnston explained: “John comes from a recruitment background and as soon as we made the decision to have a change of manager I asked him to run the process.

“We had people involved from the Supporters Group and the backroom staff of the club to assess the candidates.

“The first round of interviews was a mixture of board directors and Supporters Group directors. The final interview stage were done by myself, Steve McClaren and John.

“It is always a difficult process, a stressful time for everybody. We went through a detailed process, we had 72 applicants, we then had a shortlist and Steve helped with the final stages of the interview.

“We went through a detailed analysis, looking at each candidate’s experience, their characteristics, their coaching style, how they gel a team together, the importance of dressing room spirit, their philosophy on football, all kinds of areas we looked at.”

After coaching for five years in the youth system at Middlesbrough, the Blyth job was Armstrong’s first as a manager, one that saw him become only the third Spartans boss to record a promotion.

Johnston added: “He has a proven track record at this level, he did very well at Blyth on a very tight budget and knows how to manage in this league.

“Last year the player recruitment didn’t work out. Tommy did a great job for the club, he established the academy, so he’s got a legacy there. It didn’t quite work on the field, but we need better value for money from the playing squad and there’ll be changes in the summer to reflect that.

“We’re not going to be the biggest spenders in the league and he did very well to get a promotion and then get his team into a play-off position.

“He plays an attacking style of football, scores lots of goals and the form Blyth were in at the end of last season they were as good as anybody in the division.

“With him being an ex-forward his emphasis is on attack and attacking teams, having a go, so I think that will go down well with the fans.”