AFTER a last-minute delay, Bury have finally confirmed the departure of their manager, Richie Barker, to League One rivals Crawley Town.

The 37-year-old Shakers boss made a dart down the M6 today to finalise the fine print of his contract before officially agreeing to take over the Sussex side.

Shortly after, Bury’s board of directors released the following statement: “Bury Football Club are extremely disappointed to announce that Richie Barker has departed his position as manager at Bury Football Club, in order to take up the vacant position at Crawley Town.

“Richie Barker stepped in as caretaker manager following the departure of Alan Knill to Scunthorpe United on 31 March 2011.

“He took charge of first team affairs with the club looking for promotion just eight games short of the end of the 2010/11 season and went on to win the next six games, sealing promotion to League One with a 3-2 win at Chesterfield just a month after taking over.

“Appointed as the club’s 35th manager on June 1, 2011, Richie has taken charge of just 58 games, winning 22, drawing 13 and losing 23.

“His final game in charge was Saturday’s pre-season friendly at Bradford City, which the Shakers won 3-0.

“The board of Bury FC would like to make clear that, after having spent many hours over the weekend speaking to Richie in an attempt to convince him to stay; it became clear that the primary factor in Richie’s decision to leave was his desire to be closer to his young family on the South Coast.

“Richie has asked us to put on record his sincere gratitude to everyone associated with the club, and especially Shakers supporters that have supported him throughout his time as our manager.

“Likewise, on behalf of everyone at Bury FC, we would like to thank Richie for his time at Gigg Lane, and the huge part that he has played in seeing us gain, and establish, ourselves as a League One outfit.

“Peter Shirtliff will be placed in temporary charge of first team affairs for this weekend's game with Middlesbrough, with Ben Futcher as his assistant.”

The directors also added a caveat at the end of the statement in response to supporters’ calls on social-networking sites for clarification on Richie Barker’s situation.

“Bury FC would like to take this opportunity to re-iterate our policy on signings, transfers and managerial changes,” the statement read.

“As a club, we do NOT comment on rumours, hearsay, unconfirmed articles in the press or on social networking sites.

“Club policy continues to be that no comment will be made until contracts are signed and confirmed.

“No official statements will be made until the club, and other clubs involved, are 100 per cent in agreement that contracts are signed and details can be released to supporters.”