Cheltenham Town: Mark Yates and Neil Howarth set for extended contracts
CHELTENHAM Town manager Mark Yates has already been in discussions with chairman Paul Baker over a new contract.
Yates and his assistant Neil Howarth both have deals until the end of next season, but an extension to the summer of 2015 has been discussed.
Baker said: "I have already spoken to Mark about extending the contract for another year.
"Informal discussions have taken place and Mark is keen to commit himself to the club.
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"We will be sitting down this month and chatting through proposals for extending the deal, and the same for Neil too.
"They comes as a team and we will negotiate with them together."
Former club captain Yates is firmly on course to become the club's longest-serving Football League manager, having taken over in December 2009.
John Ward led the Robins for four years between 2003 and 2007 and while Steve Cotterill was in charge for four-and-a-half years, only three of those were in the League.
Yates was the sixth manager appointed by Baker, who has been chairman since 1997.
Baker said he was pleased with Cheltenham's activity in the January transfer window, but that there was now more pressure on Yates to achieve success.
"I am really happy with the player recruitment and the fact we have brought in not only loans, but permanent signings as well," Baker said.
"All four of the new players who have played have looked good at times, but I don't think we have seen the best of them yet.
"They will take some time to gel and Mark has to work out his best team and how he wants to play, but recruitment is one of his strength and he's definitely improved the quality."
While Baker is hopeful the club can go one step better than last year and return to League One, the board have been careful not to overspend in a bid to chase automatic promotion.
"There would be no financial issues if we were not to win promotion this season," Baker said.
"There has been a lot of player movement, but it has been carefully funded.
"Players have gone out who were big earners so we have made significant savings there.
"We have also been able to fund the additions using some of the FA Cup money, so it we don't go up, there won't be any implications on next season's budget."
Baker confirmed that Marlon Pack's move to Swindon Town is still very much a possibility, with Luke Rooney set to move in the other direction.
"The deal is not off, but I don't know the financial status of the takeover at Swindon," Baker said.
"I can't believe they will go into administration, but I believe there was a Football League meeting yesterday and hopefully Swindon's situation can be resolved.
"If the takeover is approved we can do the deal and we are still confident it can happen, so I hope Paolo Di Canio (Swindon manager) hasn't changed his mind.
"Marlon is in a tough situation and he did well on Saturday when he went on against Dagenham and made a big difference.
"Of course we will not be disappointed if we keep him because he is one of our best players, but he'd like the move to go ahead and it's a good deal for the club. I think Rooney coming in too would be a positive move too."
While Baker would be disappointed to see Pack leave, he said the club had adopted a pragmatic approach, with the 21-year-old out of contract at the end of the season.
"Marlon has made it clear he doesn't see his future here and that he wants to play higher," Baker said.
"In footballing terms, it's disappointing to lose one of our best players, but that's football and I am sure Mark can fill the gap and carry on improving and progressing.
"It's always disappointing to lose players, but we have done in the past and the money for Marlon, who is out of contract, would represent a decent fee and I'd see that as a positive.
"If it doesn't happen, then we have him here for 15 more games helping us try to win promotion."
Baker said that Rooney could still arrive on loan if the Pack deal fell through, but the club would have to look carefully at the finances before sanctioning a move.
"It would be a judgement Mark will have to make," Baker said. "Do we need to bring in another body if Marlon stays?
"If Mark felt strongly that Rooney would make a difference, we'd do our best to look on it favourably."
Baker hopes the January investment will help the club shed their 'Little Old Cheltenham' tag, something which has always annoyed him.
"I'd like to think we are commanding more respect now," Baker said.
"In terms of crowds we have no right to be expecting promotion from League Two.
"As with any business, if a department head comes to you with ideas for increasing revenue and bringing success and you grant them, if he doesn't deliver he has egg on his face.
"We know there are never any guarantees in football, but we've all brought into the players and felt the signings would be good additions.
"We knew about all of them, apart from Michael Hector, but he comes from a Premier League club and is very highly thought of at Reading.
"Mark has increased pressure on himself, but one of his strengths is that he now has the confidence to push the board and back himself."