Braintree Town chairman Lee Harding has said that he would like to have a new manager in place for the first-team’s post-season get-together soon after their final game of the season.

Harding was speaking after news emerged early this morning that boss Alan Devonshire had declined an offer to take charge of the Iron for a fifth season in the Conference Premier.

That has sparked much debate among fans about who the next manager will be and there have been plenty of applications already.

The chairman said there was a process that they would have to follow, but added that he hoped an appointment could be made either in time for the final game of the season against Altrincham on April 25 in the days just after that.

He said: “I have to be honest and say that up until last night we were hoping that we could do a deal with Alan.

“However, we could not offer him enough.

“That’s the basic situation and now we look elsewhere.

“The process of advertising has started and we’ve had 18 applications this morning since news came out about Alan leaving.

“You obviously get one or two crank ones, but we have to go through the process of looking at them all now.

“We’ll have to see how it goes with how quickly we appoint and we’ll look to be sensible over it.

“I expect myself and my fellow board members will chat about it and there’ll be a lot of interested people watching our remaining games.

“We have the two fixtures left and then the traditional evening when we all get together for the end of the season the week after and I have to say, it would be handy to have the new manager in place for that so he could speak with one or two people then.

“We’ll have to see what comes out but we have started the process now.”

Meanwhile, Harding added that assistant boss Keith Rowland had also left the club along with Devonshire.

The chairman said: “We said to Keith would he be interested in taking charge for the two games that are remaining and he turned that down.

“It’s my understanding that he didn’t want to be involved.

“So we thank him for his efforts as well as Alan.”