Walsall Football Club are delighted to confirm the appointment of Matt Sadler as our new Head Coach. Sadler has been an integral part of the coaching staff for the past three seasons and was selected through an extensive evaluation process.
Prior to his coaching career, Sadler enjoyed a playing career spanning 20 years and 575 appearances, gaining experience in all four top divisions, including highlights of winning promotion to the Premier League with Birmingham City, a Championship play-off with Watford and a League One play-off final with Shrewsbury Town. He finished his playing career at Walsall, captaining the team on several occasions and moving into a player/coach role before becoming first team manager two years later.
In addition to his first team coaching responsibilities over the past two seasons, Sadler has played an important role in the day-to-day liaison between the first team and the Academy and the implementation of the club’s individual player development plans. The 38-year-old has been in charge of the reserve team in Central League and Central League Cup matches in the 2020/21 and 2021/22 seasons. He also acquired his UEFA Pro License. In April 2023, he became interim head coach following the departure of Michael Flynn.
Co-chairman Ben Boycott oversaw the extensive recruitment process. “I am both pleased and confident in the appointment of Matt Sadler as our new head coach,” he said.
“His knowledge and intuition of the game is considerable, with a playing career spanning from League Two to the Premier League, international experience with the England U17, U18 and U19 teams and several years in a coaching and player development capacity at Walsall FC.”
“I believe in who he is and who he can become as a football professional, I believe in who he is as a leader and most importantly I believe in who he is as a man of high integrity, extraordinary courage and determination and strong personal values that fit the culture we are trying to build at Walsall FC.
“I want to thank everyone at the football club – staff, players, supporters – for your patience as we have carried out a very thorough process. There was a lot of talk in the media while this was going on, some of which was true and much of which was not. We assessed a large number of applicants in an open process and through a series of interviews whittled this down to a group of finalists. We then conducted a thorough process of reference checks, personal interviews and technical presentations with each of these finalists. We had very strong candidates for the role, with good experience in different leagues and countries, each of whom was evaluated through the same process and each of them was given the necessary attention. Ultimately, at the end of it all, and with several strong candidates reaching the end of the process and wanting the role, the first and only offer made for the job was to Matt Sadler.
“As I shared in my last note, we are implementing a comprehensive football strategy, spanning from playing identity, culture, recruitment, player development and so on. This is a building process and I am confident that Matt is the right person, given his values, determination, ambition and ability, to partner with us in building that future and that he can continue to grow as a coach as we grow as a club . Finally, I am delighted that Matt is a member of the club – he is from the Midlands, finished his career at Walsall and I know for sure that he is deeply invested in the success of this football club.
“The club will now initiate a similar thorough vetting process to identify the right assistant coach to support Matt in his new responsibilities.”
Sadler is now looking forward to getting started in his head coaching role.
“First off, I can’t wait to get started,” Sadler said. “We went through the process and in the back of my head it was just a desperate desire to get started, so I can’t wait for the opportunity to do it. I want to thank everyone who was part of the process for giving me the opportunity and it’s not something I take lightly – it’s something I’m truly honored to be asked to do. It goes without saying that I will give absolutely everything to make sure it is successful in the years to come.”
“I want to pay attention to the fans; we must now be together in this next phase of the football club’s journey. Fans, staff, players – everyone coming together in this next period and showing what a powerful thing this can be will be my rallying cry all season because we’re not going to achieve anything on our own. We’ve all got to be together through wins, losses, all those good times and all those hard times – we’ve all got to be together through it all and that’s the only way we’re going to succeed.”
Boycott concluded: “I would invite every person at the club to join me in getting behind Matt and the additional staff and players we are creating to bring in as we continue to work to build the club into a more positive future. “