Forest Green chairman Dale Vince accused Watford of “doubling down on deceit” after manager Rob Edwards left the club and entered advanced talks for the vacant position at Vicarage Road.
Edwards helped guide Rovers to the 20212/22 Sky Bet League Two title, finishing ahead of Exeter on goal difference, but the club confirmed he had left his position “with negotiations taking place behind our backs” over a proposed switch to Watford, where Roy Hodgson is set to stand down at the end of the Premier League campaign.
Chairman Vince was left less than impressed by the developments, revealing he had called Edwards on Tuesday evening as speculation mounted.
“As soon as he started speaking, I knew it was real,” Vince exclusively told Sky Sports News. “(He told me) that he had been in negotiations (with Watford) and felt it was a great opportunity for him.
“Overwhelmingly for me the feeling was disappointment, because in football people come and go all of the time. The important thing is the manner of it.
“I wish him well, but he is poor from Watford, who claim to be starting a new era, and he is poor from Rob as well. He has let us down, but he knows it, so there it is, and we will move on.”
Vince stressed Rovers should have been approached by Watford initially, so negotiations could commence in the proper manner.
“Watford advised Rob not to tell us specifically, so for me that doubles down on the deceit,” Vince added. “It is the kind of thing which gives football a bad name and the kind of thing which shouldn’t happen but occasionally does.
“I believe Watford have reached out today, so now there will be some more formal, more proper process to end Rob’s time here and for it to start at Watford.”
Rovers will now begin their own search to replace Edwards, who took over at the club during the summer of 2021.
“We have got a shortlist already and will just crack on with it,” Vince said. “We will find another up and coming young coach who has got all the attributes we looked for in Rob and will go again. We just move on.
“It is hard not to let it take the shine off us what has happened, promotion and winning the title, but it won’t get in the way of what we do in the future because we will carry on operating in the way we do – open and honest with everybody.”
Vince added: “I think everything will be fine – and if there is Karma in football, we will meet Watford in the Championship in a few years’ time.”
Sky Sports News has approached Watford for comment.