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Preston North End: The EFL club who have NEVER had a manager outside the UK or Ireland!

In the modern game of football, it is not unusual for clubs in the upper tiers of the English league system to adopt foreign managers. Did you know, however, that one EFL Championship club has NEVER had a manager outside of the UK or Ireland!

Preston North End Football Club were founded in 1880, playing their matches at Deepdale Stadium right up until today. They have had 45 managers, become “the Invincibles”, and had a terror attempt on their stadium in that time – but have never had a non-English speaking manager!

The first man to take charge of the newly-formed Preston North End FC was Englishman William Sudell, who managed the club for 9 years up until 1889, when he was succeeded by fellow countryman E.H Bahr for 17 years between 1889 – 1906.

William Sudell poses for a photograph with his Preston North End squad and some local MPs. Sudell's side would eventually win the first English double and set records in the fa cup that remain unbroken today.
William Sudell (Top right, Black suit) poses for a photograph with Preston North End players and two local MPs. Image credit: Spartacus Educational

Under Sudell, Preston North End won the inaugural League Championship of 1888/1889, as well as the FA Cup the same year. This team earned the title of “The Invincibles” on account of the fact that they remained unbeaten in both competitions.

Sudell’s squad also won the FA Cup without conceding a single goal – only adding to the side’s reputation during this time. The club won the League title again during the 1889/1890 season, but have failed to do so since.

It is worth noting that part of Preston’s success in their early years came as a result of their outside hiring of Scottish professional players – who were referred to as the “Scotch Professors”.

An example of their influence on the club’s success came in the form of the 1887 FA Cup. In this tournament, they beat Hyde 26-0 in the first round, with Scottish forward Jimmy Ross scoring 8 of those and going on to score 19 over the course of the entire competition.

Preston North End hired a lot of professional Scottish footballers in their early years who lead them to great success. They are referred to as the 'Scotch Professors'.
The ‘Scotch Professors’ were a large part of Preston North End FC’s early success.

Both their initial 26-0 victory, and Ross’s 19 goal tally for the tournament remain to this day unbroken records in English football.

After Bahr’s tenure between 1889 – 1906, fellow English managers Charlie Parker and Vincent Hayes would enjoy 9 & 4 year stints at the helm of Preston North End respectively. Parker steered the club between 1906 – 1915, with Hayes taking over between 1919 – 1923.

It was in 1923 that the club would sign their first ever manager from outside of the confines of England – hiring Scotsman James Lawrence for the position between 1923 – 1925.

After Lawrence’s relatively short tenure, Preston North End FC would bounce between 16 English & Scottish managers up right up until December of 1981 – most notably perhaps being Englishman Cliff Britton & Scotsman Jimmy Milne, who managed the club for 230 & 350 games respectively.

It was in December 1981 that the club would hire their first manager who could be considered “foreign” from the UK, although they would only look as far as Ireland on this occasion.

The tenure of this new signing, Alan Kelly, was only recorded as lasting 5 days between the 3rd of December – 8th of December 1981. He was quickly replaced with Englishman Gordon Lee for 2 years, before being reinstated as manager once more in December 1983.

Kelly’s time as manager would be a little longer on this occasion, seeing him head the club up until February 1985 – giving him a little over a year in charge.

The only other Irishman than Kelly to take the helm of Preston North End came in the form of Kelham O’Hanlon, who would manage the side for just 44 days between the 15th of March – 28th of April 2002.

Since his departure, the club have once again bounced between 7 different Scottish managers and 9 English managers, leading up to their current chief Ryan Lowe, who took over management in December of 2021.

Ryan Lowe is a former professional football player who is the current manager for Preston North End in the EFL Championship.
Englishman Ryan Lowe is the current manager for Preston North End FC in the EFL Championship. Image credit: Sky Sports

Lowe has so far been in charge of 103 games for Preston, with a record of 39 wins, 27 draws, and 37 losses to his and his side’s count so far.

The two short tenures of Alan Kelly and Kelham O’Hanlon at the head of Preston North End FC is the only statistic keeping the club from having never had a manager from outside of the UK – with both hailing from the Republic of Ireland.

Do you know of any other clubs who have NEVER had a foreign manager? Let us know at!