Torquay United boss Gary Johnson is confident that the sacking of his son Lee as manager at Bristol City will not diminish the relationship between Plainmoor and Ashton Gate which has seen five successful loans to the Gulls over the last two years.
Lee Johnson was the longest-serving manager in the Championship - he had been in charge of the Robins for five years - before a disappointing post-Covid resumption and a 1-0 home defeat by Cardiff City last weekend prompted his dismissal.
Johnson Sr has declined to comment on the decision itself but he has always stressed that the ‘Bristol Connection’ was never just a cosy link between father and son.
“It’s been a reciprocal arrangement that’s worked well, because both clubs - not just both managers - have been happy with it,” said Johnson, who managed City himself for five years (2005-2010).
“If it had just been about Lee and me, that wouldn’t have worked.
“Logistically, Bristol City is still one of the biggest clubs nearest to us, and we’ve done well for them as well as they’ve done a good job for us.
“I don’t see any reason why that shouldn’t carry on.
“I know everybody there that I need to talk to regarding loans very closely.
“I’ve taken Bristol City players on loan at my other clubs, before Lee went there, and it’s not only Bristol City that we’ve signed players from here.”
Jake Andrews, Connor Lemonheigh-Evans, Opi Edwards, Saikou Janneh and Robbie Cundy have all been loaned by United from Bristol over the last two seasons, midfielder Andrews eventually moving permanently last summer.
There has been speculation that one or more of the remaining quartet might return to Plainmoor next season.
Johnson and his assistant Aaron Downes also have a close relationship with former Ashton Gate player and manager Brian Tinnion, who is now in charge of the club’s outgoing loan players.