NEW chairman Grahame Rowley vowed to keep Altrincham moving in the right direction, despite having to cope with the loss of boardroom boss Geoff Goodwin and team manager Graham Heathcote in the space of a few hours.

Mr Goodwin bowed to outside pressures and stood down as chairman on Monday afternoon, while Mr Heathcote's eight-year reign as manager ended by mutual consent at a board meeting later that evening.

While many clubs may have been left in disarray by the departure of two such prominent figures, Mr Rowley is convinced Alty are on a sound enough footing to maintain the progress of recent seasons on and off the pitch.

Confirmed as Mr Goodwin's successor at a meeting which also handed temporary control of team affairs to Mr Heathcote's assistant Ken McKenna, Mr Rowley said: "Geoff's decision has been coming for a while, because of pressure at work and the need to find time for some sort of home life.

"His company has been taking on more bus routes, as well as their luxury coach service, and he has been heading into his office at 5.30am every morning. He told me he felt guilty about not being able to devote more time to Altrincham, but he has nothing to reproach himself over after all he has done for this club.

"When he took over in 2002, and formed a new board with me and Andrew Shaw, we inherited a debt of £650,000 and were on the point of going bust. The prospects looked extremely bleak, but through sheer hard work, and selling the car park a couple of years ago, we managed to pay it all off.

"You see some clubs going into administration at the drop of a hat these days, then re-forming, but that was never our intention. It may have been the easy way out, but we can hold our heads high and say we repaid every penny to anyone we were in debt to. I share the same values as Geoff and will try and ensure the club continues to be run within its means.

"I am Altrincham born and bred and proud to take the mantle, but it is tinged with sadness over Graham. He just felt it was the right time to go, but no-one will forget all he has done in a 40-year association with the club."