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Mike Williamson, Ian Watson & Chris Bell depart to join MK Dons
Jack McGraghan
Author: Jack McGraghan

17th October 2023

Gateshead Football Club can confirm that player-manager Mike Williamson has agreed to join MK Dons.

A formal approach was made from the League Two outfit at the beginning of this week, which the club reluctantly accepted after Williamson had expressed his desire to pursue negotiations.

The 39-year-old has now finalised terms with MK Dons, and departs Gateshead along with assistant manager Ian Watson and club physiotherapist Chris Bell.

Williamson and Watson have overseen one of the most successful periods in the club’s history since taking charge in June 2019, crafting a playing squad entirely from scratch following demotion to the National League North and reaching the play-off semi-finals in their first season at the helm.

The duo played an integral role in guiding the club to the National League North title in 2022 despite being placed as 20/1 outsiders – the first league title a Gateshead side had won since 1986.

Louis Storey, Mike Williamson, Ian Watson, Ben Clark & Chris Bell with the National League North Trophy in 2022.

Williamson and Watson then oversaw the club’s survival in the fifth tier at the first attempt last season and also reached the FA Trophy final for the first time, and Wembley Stadium for the second time, in Gateshead’s history.

Club Chairman, Neil Pinkerton, said: “Mike has been a fantastic servant to Gateshead Football Club and agreed to re-join the club, alongside Ian and Chris, at a time when we didn’t have a single contracted player following our demotion in 2019.

“The success they have brought to our club is testament to them as individuals and as a collective team, of which there are many more.

“An approach from MK Dons – a club in the EFL that was only recently in the Championship – proved too much to turn down and we wish them every success, of which we are sure they will be.”

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