Watford have confirmed that Rob Edwards will take over as head coach at the end of the season following his departure from Forest Green.
The appointment was shrouded in controversy, with Forest Green owner Dale Vince criticizing the way Watford negotiated ‘behind the back’ of the League Two champions.
“Watford Football Club are delighted to confirm the appointment of Rob Edwards as their new head coach, effective at the end of the current 2021/22 season,” a statement from Watford read.
“Rob had a contractual provision allowing him to leave Forest Green Rovers at any time to discuss employment opportunities at other clubs and the Hornets are delighted to confirm our discussions concluded today.”
Shortly after the announcement, Vince replied, “A lot of people on social media are saying Rob’s contract expires at the end of May this year – as if that excuses something done in early May when the contract was valid.
“Most importantly, the contract didn’t expire until May 2024. What do you say now?
Edwards had helped guide Rovers to the League Two title, finishing ahead of Exeter on goal difference.
However, on Wednesday afternoon the club confirmed the 39-year-old had left following speculation of a proposed switch to the Hornets, with Roy Hodgson set to step down at the end of the campaign.
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Vince was less than impressed with the turn of events, revealing he called Edwards on Tuesday night as speculation mounted.
“As soon as he started talking I knew it was real,” Vince told Sky Sports News.
“(He told me) he had been in negotiations (with Watford) and he thought it was a great opportunity for him.
“For me, the vast majority was a feeling of disappointment, because in football people come and go all the time. What matters is how you do it.
“I wish him well, but he is poor from Watford, who claim to start a new era, and he is poor from Rob as well.
“He let us down, but he knows it, so that’s it, and we’ll move on.”
In a club statement, Rovers expressed disappointment with the way Edwards left, adding that there had been no initial contact from Watford through official channels.
Edwards will now be responsible for guiding Watford to the Premier League, after the Hertfordshire club suffered relegation after just one season in the top flight in which they had three managers.
Vince said: “Watford advised Rob not to tell us, in particular, so to me that doubles the deception.
“It’s the kind of thing that gives football a bad name and the kind of thing that shouldn’t happen, but does happen sometimes.
“I believe Watford have reached out today, so now there will be a more formal and appropriate process to end Rob’s time here and for him to start at Watford.”
Rovers will now begin their own search to replace Edwards, who took over at the club in the summer of 2021.
“We already have a shortlist and we’re going to continue with it,” Vince said.
“We will find another promising young coach who has all the attributes we were looking for in Rob and we will return. We just move on.
“It’s hard not to let this tarnish what happened, the promotion and the title win, but that won’t stop what we do in the future as we will continue to operate as we do – open and honest with everyone.
“I think everything will be fine – and if there is karma in football, we will meet Watford in the league in a few years.”
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