Walsall Football Club are delighted to confirm the appointment of Mat Sadler as our new Head Coach. Sadler has been an integral member of the coaching team over the past three seasons and was selected in a thorough evaluation process.
Prior to his coaching career, Sadler enjoyed a playing career that spanned 20 years and 575 appearances, gaining experience across all top four divisions, including highlights of winning promotion to the Premier League with Birmingham City, a Championship play-off run with Watford, and a League One play-off final with Shrewsbury Town. He concluded his playing career at Walsall, captaining the side on multiple occasions and moving into a player/coach role before becoming First Team Coach two years later.
In addition to his First Team coaching responsibilities over the last two seasons, Sadler has played an integral role in the day-to-day connection between the First Team and Academy, and the implementation of the club's individual player development plans. The 38-year-old led the reserve team in Central League and Central League Cup matches during 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 Mat Sadler to be our new Head Coach,” he said.
“His knowledge of and intuition for the game is significant, with a playing career spanning from League Two to the Premier League, international experience with England U17s, U18s, and U19s, and several years now 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 with high integrity, outstanding grit and determination, and strong personal values which match the culture that 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 run a very thorough process. Much was said in the media while this was going on, some of which was true, and much of which was not. We evaluated a vast number of candidates in an open process, and through a series of interviews whittled this down to a group of finalists. We then conducted a detailed process of reference checks, in-person interviews, and technical presentations with each of those finalists. We had many strong candidates for the role, with good experience in various leagues and countries, each of whom was evaluated via the same process and each of whom was given due consideration. Ultimately, at the end of all of that, and with several strong candidates having reached the end of the process and desiring the role, the first and only offer made for the job was to Mat Sadler.
“As I shared in my last note, we are implementing a comprehensive football strategy, spanning from playing identity, to culture, to recruitment, to player development, and on. This is a building process, and I am confident that Mat is the right man, given his values, his resolve, his ambition, and his abilities, to partner with us in building this future, and that he can continue to grow as a coach as we grow as a club. Lastly, I am pleased that Mat is one of the club’s own - he is from the Midlands, he finished his career at Walsall, and I know for a fact that he is deeply invested in the success of this football club.
“The club will now be initiating a similarly thorough vetting process to identify the right assistant coach to support Mat in his new responsibilities.”
Sadler is now looking forward to getting to work in his role as Head Coach.
“Firstly, I can’t wait to get started,” Sadler said. “We’ve gone through the process and in the back of my head was just being desperate to get started so I can’t wait for the opportunity to do that. I want to thank everyone who was part of the process for giving me the opportunity and it’s not one that I take at all lightly - it’s one I have real honour in being asked to do. It goes without saying that I will give it absolutely everything to make sure it’s a success over the coming years.”
“I want to make the point to the fans; we must now be together in this next phase in the football club’s journey. Fans, staff, players – everyone coming together over this next period and showing what a powerful thing that can be will be my rallying cry throughout the whole season, because we won’t achieve anything on our own. We all must be together throughout the wins, throughout the defeats, all of those good times and all of those tough times - we all need to be together throughout all of it and that’s the only way we’ll be successful.”
Boycott concluded: “I’d invite every person around the club to join me in getting behind Mat and the additional staff and players we’re setting up to bring in, as we continue to work to build the club into a more positive future.”