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'Disappointed and shocked': Fans react as Dean Smith leaves Walsall FC

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Dean Smith has completed his move from Walsall to Brentford, the Saddlers confirmed this afternoon

The boss, who has masterminded the Saddlers promotion charge this season, could even be in the stands tonight for the Bee's Championship clash with Bolton.

The 44-year-old boss moves to Griffin Park along with his assistant Richard O'Kelly.

It means coach John Ward, fitness coach Jon Whitney and goalkeeping coach Neil Cutler will take charge of tomorrow's clash against rivals Shrewsbury.

A compensation package for the Smith and O'Kelly, who leave with immediate effect, had been confirmed.

The announcement came after hours of speculation about Smith's future.

The club said: "We apologise to our supporters for the delay in announcing this information today but the necessary paperwork from our end had to be signed and ratified before we were able to release this statement."

This afternoon, chairman Jeff Bonser said: "We are disappointed to lose Dean.

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"He is the fourth longest serving manager in English Football and would have been at the helm for five years in January.

"We categorically did not want him to leave this football club and did all we could to keep him at the helm.

"He has been fantastic for Walsall Football Club and, in turn, we have been fantastic for him. We gave him his opportunity in management and believed in him throughout his tenure.

"He helped keep us in League One at the end of his first season and made gradual improvement throughout his time in charge; culminating in a first Wembley appearance earlier this year and an excellent start to the current campaign. We thank him, and Richard O'Kelly, for their hard work and efforts. However, we now have to look to the future.

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"We have a blue print and philosophy at Walsall Football Club that we are committed to and will ensure that continues to grow and flourish. We find ourselves in the somewhat unusual position of looking to recruit a new management team whilst in such a strong position both on and off the field. I am sure we will have a high number of applicants for the role and it is the job of myself and the Board of Directors to ensure that we make the right appointment.

"In the meantime John Ward, Jon Whitney and Neil Cutler will take temporary control of first team matters."

Before his departure, Smith was English football's fourth longest-serving manager, having been in charge at the Banks's since January 2011 - beaten only by Arsenal's Arsene Wenger (19 years), Exeter City's Paul Tisdale (June 2006) and MK Dons' Karl Robinson (May 2010).

Brentford sacked head coach Marinus Dijkhuizen in September with former Everton midfielder Lee Carsley placed in temporary charge.

But despite winning five of his nine games, Carsley publically stated he didn't want the job on a full-time basis.

Brentford moved for Smith after a deal to bring in Swansea assistant Pep Clotet collapsed last week.

It is now believed Smith could watch from the stands tonight as Brentford travel to take on Bolton.

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