Exactly two years to the day since being appointed caretaker head coach, and only four days after signing a new contract at Oakwell, Paul Heckingbottom is set to walk out today and join Yorkshire rivals Leeds United.
Royston born Heckingbottom who famously said “When I was growing up, where I was from, you were a Barnsley fan or a Leeds fan when you played in the field behind my house, “It was Leeds against Barnsley and the Leeds lads were always older than us and always used to kick smoke out of us. We hated Leeds and they hated us and that is how it was." before the two sides clashed at Oakwell back in November was at Elland Road last night to thrash out personal terms after the West Yorkshire outfit met his recently agreed release clause.
Heckingbottom only revealed on Friday that he had agreed a new 12 month rolling contract with his hometown club on improved terms, but with crucially, a release clause, believed to be between £400,000 and £500,000.
Heckingbottom has been linked with several managerial vacancies over the course of the season and at one point was the bookies favourite for posts at both Nottingham Forest and Sunderland but this looks the most concrete so far.
Reaction was mixed last night when the news broke with several supporters feeling the former Reds defender may have taken the club as far as he can, he has often spoken at his frustration at not being able to strengthen the squad as much as he would like and was visibly annoyed at last January's sales of James Bree, Sam Winnall and Conor Hourihane whose key departures saw the Reds tumble from 8th in the Championship, four points off the play-offs to a final finish of 14th, 22 points off the top six following a run of just three wins from their final 19 matches.
More key players departed in the summer including Marc Roberts, Marley Watkins and Josh Scowen meaning that only four of the side that started the opening game of the 2016-2017 season remained at the club for the start of 2017-2018.
This season has mainly been a struggle for Heckingbottom, barring a run of one defeat in seven between September and November and their current run of just one win in 16 has dropped them to the edge of the relegation zone, just a point clear of the drop zone.
Leeds meanwhile sacked their head coach Thomas Christiansen on Sunday after just eight months in charge following a 4-1 defeat at home to Coventry and they will now hope Heckingbottom can revive the fortunes of a team who sit 10th in the Championship, seven points off the playoffs following a run of seven games without a win in all competitions.
Barnsley meanwhile are set to search for their 14th permanent manager this century, with Heckingbottom only the third of the last 13 not to be sacked (also Mark Robins and Lee Johnson) and it will be the first managerial appointment for the club's new owners, and arguably one of the most crucial as they attempt to avoid a return to League One after just two seasons.