LEEDS UNITED managerial target Darrell Clarke has pledged his future to Bristol Rovers - thwarting the Whites hopes of bringing him in as Steve Evans’ successor.
United had been locked in talks with the West Country outfit regarding compensation details - expected to be in the region of £250,000.
But in a fresh development, the 38-year-old - who has led Rovers to back-to-back promotions from the National League and League Two - has decided to stay at the Memorial Stadium and has agreed fresh terms on a new three-year deal, dashing owner Massimo Cellino’s bid to bring him to West Yorkshire.
A statement from Rovers said: “Bristol Rovers are delighted to announce that Darrell Clarke has agreed to remain at The Memorial Stadium as manager and has agreed a new, improved, three-year contract which will make him the highest paid manager in the club’s history.
“There has been speculation all week that Darrell might be leaving following an approach by Leeds United to take him to Elland Road.
“Darrell believes that the ambitions of Bristol Rovers match his own and is looking forward to the challenge of preparing the club for life back in Sky Bet League One for the 2016/17 campaign.”
Professing delight at Clarke’s decision to stay at Rovers, chairman Steve Hamer said: “We’re delighted that Darrell will be staying with us.
“We’ve recognised the work that Darrell has done for us and have rewarded him for that with the offer of a long-term contract.
“It sees Darrell become the highest-paid manager in the history of Bristol Rovers and that shows how much faith we have in his ability to keep moving this club forward on the pitch.
“It is completely understandable that Darrell took a few days to think things over in his head because it must be extremely flattering to even be considered by a club with the history and tradition of Leeds United.
“That he has decided that his future with us is fantastic because what we have going forward is very exciting and he can be a part of that from the foundations upwards.
“I think our fans will be delighted. You’d struggle to find a more popular manager with his own supporters.”
Cellino, currently abroad in Italy, is now reassessing his options for the head coach post at Elland Road, which is still officially held by Steve Evans.
The United owner has spoken in the national press about “a lot of good managers” queuing up for the head coach’s role, despite the rapid turnover of coaches under him.
Cellino also met MK Dons boss Karl Robinson for talks in London last week, but nothing materialised from that meeting with Robinson expressing doubts about the working conditions at the club, with United switching their attentions to Clarke.
Meanwhile, Evans - whose deal terminates at the end of June - is seeking clarity after being kept in the dark regarding his future.
A statement issued by the Scot said: “After lots of press calls and a further meeting with my advisors, it is very obvious the time has arrived for Mr Cellino to tell me I am not his head coach for next season.
“Out of respect for this great football club’s history, and to the Leeds United supporters, I’ll take that decision with good grace. This is a special club. It should have standards of excellence in everything it does.
“I now need to accept that I open my mind up to other options for my career. “Obviously I now need to know the direction of my career. In summary, I just need closure.”.
Rumoured United head coach target John Sheridan has been appointed as manager at Notts County.
The former Leeds midfielder, a cult hero in his playing days in the 1980s, has signed a three-year deal.