Revealed: O'Kelly quit Aston Villa after being demoted to youth team
Richard O’Kelly quit Aston Villa after the club tried to demote him from the first team to the Under-23s, Football Insider can exclusively reveal.
The Midlands giants announced last week that Dean Smith’s longstanding ally had opted to depart Bodymoor Heath on the eve of the new season.
Villa did not explain why O’Kelly, 64, was leaving other than to hint that it was his decision.
But a Villa source has told Football Insider that the experienced coach had no intention of leaving until the club moved to sideline him shortly before the new Premier League campaign.
O’Kelly was told he would be taking on a new role coaching the Under-23s rather than the first team he had worked with during his three years at the club.
The former Brentford coach, who had worked alongside Smith for 10 years, resisted Villa’s move and instead offered his resignation.
Subscribe to Football Insider TV now
It meant he had become the second member of Smith’s coaching staff to quit in the weeks on the eve of the new season following John Terry.
The Chelsea legend claimed he had left to pursue opportunities in management while admitting he had no job lined up.
The timing of O’Kelly’s departure swiftly afterwards has prompted raised eyebrows among Villa supporters.
It also threatens to leave Smith isolated at a time when he is bedding in new signings following the £100million sale of Jack Grealish and also working to overcome a shock opening-day defeat to Watford.