Bristol Rovers legend Darrell Clarke takes over at Barnsley following Cheltenham Town exit

Bristol Rovers legend Darrell Clarke has been named the new manager of League One Barnsley. Clarke had been in talks over an extension to his one-year deal at Cheltenham Town but discussions broke down and he has signed a two-year contract at Oakwell, with the option for a third.

Clarke led Rovers to back-to-back promotions from the National League into League One, creating a lifelong bond with supporters, before being dismissed in 2018 and has since managed Walsall and Port Vale, who he also secured promotion with into the third tier.

Barnsley finished sixth in League One last season, losing to Bolton Wanderers in the play-off semi-finals but had sacked head coach Neill Collins in April after a five-match losing run as supporters turned against the Scot with coach Martin Devaney placed in interim charge.

“I'm absolutely delighted, can’t wait to get started," Clarke said. "I’m proud to be managing this football club, I’m really looking forward to it. I didn’t need to be sold on the club, it’s got huge potential and I’m excited to get myself going and get the squad rebuilt and try to push on for a promotion challenge.”

The 47-year-old took the Cheltenham job in September last year with the Robins rooted to the bottom of League One, winless and without having scored a single goal in their opening 10 matches. He oversaw significant improvement over his 39 games in charge but Cheltenham missed out on survival by just two points on the final day of the season after losing 2-1 at Stevenage.

The news comes just 24 hours after the Gloucestershire club announced that Player of the Year Liam Sercombe, goalkeeper Luke Southwood and long-serving defender Sean Long are to leave the club after failing to agree new contracts.

Speaking after relegation had been confirmed at the end of April, Clarke discussed the prospect of him staying to try and launch a promotion bid. “I need to get my head around this,” he said.

“I have given everything I can to try and keep us in League One and I have failed to do that by the smallest of margins. I need time to settle and think, need to speak about what the plan is moving forward and I am sure those discussions will go further down the line with the chairman and the shareholders. We'll see.

“Now is not the time to really talk about my future. I am really gutted for everybody at the football club, I really am. It's all about the plan of how we move forward once the dust has settled on these things, see how we want to grow to bounce back.

"The chairman and people at the club are really good people, but I like ambition, I like drive, I don't want to be - no disrespect - sitting in League Two forever."