Non-league football manager faces drugs charges

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The manager of a non-league football club is take a ‘leave of absence’ after facing drugs charges.

Matt Clarke, the manager of Redditch United in the Southern League Premier Division Central, is facing cocaine and cannabis supply charges and will appear in Worcester Crown Court on May 7 for a plea and trial preparation hearing.

Clarke, 50, initially appeared in Worcester Crown Court back on February 14 alongside two unidentified co-defendants. Additionally, he is also facing a charge for possession of an offensive weapon.

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Clarke initially took his unexpected leave of absence back in late February. While he has been away from the club, members of his backroom staff have been fulfilling his matchday and training duties from the touchline. Currently, Redditch are fifth in the Southern League Premier Division Central table, having drawn away at Barwell yesterday.

Redditch chairman David Faulkner was asked if Clarke would ever be able to return to his full-time duties as head coach of the Reds - he simply replied ‘no comment’ [via The Sun].

Clarke’s experience in professional football is extensive - as a youngster, he featured for both West Bromwich Albion and Wolverhampton Wanderers, where he featured as a right-back. He initially joined Redditch’s coaching team in 2018, taking on the role of first-team manager in 2020, where he has remained ever since. In addition to this, Clarke has also spent time with Kidderminster Harriers, Hereford United and Telford United.

When Clarke took his leave of absence, Redditch issued the following statement on their official club website: “Matt Clarke will be taking an immediate break from football for personal reasons. At this stage, we anticipate this to be a short break. The current backroom staff will be leading the team, and it is expected that this will continue to be the case until Matt’s return.”

No further statements have been issued by Redditch following the publication of the charges as of the time of writing.

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