Leeds United academy director Paul Hart heads through exit door
LEEDS UNITED are beginning the search for another new head of youth development after agreeing to part company with academy director Paul Hart.
The YEP understands that Hart will leave his role at Thorp Arch next week, less than a year after replacing Neil Redfearn as the club’s academy boss.
Hart, who previously ran Leeds’ academy with notable success in the 1990s, came back to United in September having been recommended to owner Massimo Cellino by former executive director Adam Pearson.
The club were without a director for their youth development scheme following the resignation of long-serving academy coach Neil Redfearn in July.
Redfearn, who finished the 2014-15 season as United’s first-team boss, quit Elland Road after a fall-out with Cellino and the decision to appoint Uwe Rosler as head coach in place of him.
Hart arrived two months later but is expected to sever his contract before the end of next on the back of discussions with Leeds’ executive director Paul Bell this morning.
The club have made no comment on Hart’s positions but sources at Elland Road have told the YEP that the 62-year-old is leaving his job in part because of personal reasons and illness in his family.
The former United centre-back, however, is believed to have been frustrated by a number of issues at Thorp Arch, including the sudden signing of Jack and Paul McKay earlier in the season.
The twins - sons of well-known football agent Willie McKay - joined Leeds’ development squad from Doncaster Rovers in January and have made regular appearances for the Under-21s since then. Hart is believed to have had reservations about the need for those additions to his pool of players.
Despite his plans to move on from Elland Road, Hart was due to take charge of Leeds’ development squad for a league game at Bolton Wanderers tonight. It is set to be his last match as academy director.
His appointment last year was part of a concerted attempt to build up the staff at Thorp Arch in the aftermath of Redfearn’s departure.
Leeds named former striker Andy Gray and ex-Hull City defender John Anderson as youth-team coaches and asked Hart to oversee the running of their development programme.
He was given the job on the strength of Pearson’s recommendation - owing to Hart’s track record of guiding Leeds’ Under-18s to FA Youth Cup triumphs on two occasions in the 1990s - but Pearson quit his job as executive director within days of Hart’s arrival.
Hart said at the time that the loss of Pearson was a “major blow” but insisted he was happy to be back at Leeds.
“The truth is I should never have left,” said Hart in an interview with the YEP, reflecting on his previous departure while George Graham was manager of United in 1997. “I always loved it here and when I drove back in I remembered why.”
Leeds are now looking for a replacement for Hart at a time when doubt hangs over the future of head coach Steve Evans.
Speaking today, Evans said he was himself unclear about Hart’s impending departure.
“The academy’s not my remit,” he said. “That lies in the hands of other people but I think the club might talk more about that sometime next week. I’m not 100 per cent sure because it’s not my bag.”
Amid the news about Hart, Leeds also announced on Thursday that academy striker Luke Parkin had left the club by mutual consent.
Parkin was a regular for United’s Under-21s side but did not earn a debut for the first team.