BULLEN FLITS FALKIRK

09/08/2011'FHS - RAMSDENS CUP - FALKIRK FC v DUNDEE FC'WESTFIELD STADIUM'lee bullen
09/08/2011'FHS - RAMSDENS CUP - FALKIRK FC v DUNDEE FC'WESTFIELD STADIUM'lee bullen

ASSISTANT boss Lee Bullen is leaving the club - to become an estate agent.

Bully is returning to Sheffield to become a director in the property business after downsizing his own house to continue the job he loves - coaching with the Bairns.

But dire straits at the club has led to him switching career and moving south to the Steel City where he is still hailed a hero after a stint with Sheffield Wednesday.

Bullen explained to Heraldsport: “It’s a financial decision. I’ve downsized and cut my cloth as much as I can but there comes a time when you have to stop.

“Scottish football as a whole is in a bit of a financial situation, but so is the club. I started on a decent footballer’s salary with Falkirk, but since then I have seen an 82 per cent cut.

“I have two kids and I have to do what is right for them and I feel I also have something to offer the business - it is too good an opportunity to turn down, financially.

“ Footballers get a bad rap but there are a lot of skills and experience you build up that are transferable to other jobs.

“I am looking forward to the new start, but of course, I will miss Falkirk. It has been an honour to work with the players and staff at the club.”

Heraldsport understands former East FIfe boss Stevie Crawford is in the frame to replace Bullen, who only re-negotiated a deal to stick with the Bairns at the start of pre-season training. But the offer of the position away from the game has become too good to turn down, especially after another wage cut following last season’s third place finish.

He was served termination of contract papers in the wake of defeat at Dunfermline on the final day of the season and that stuck in the former defender’s throat, but Steven Pressley engineered a return to the Stirling Uni training base.

“It was a kick in the teeth to lose on the final day at Dunfermline, but that was a double blow. Steven managed to juggle the figures and I came back in, but he has limited resources available at the club.

“That has forced my hand, and it forced our hand into playing the youngsters - though they’ve been tremendous.

“Their work ethic seems to be appreciated off the pitch. Falkirk and Sheffield have similar types of people - workers who respond to hard-workers. We’re seeing it now with the young lads too.

“I like to think that is what I am - I give my all and people respond.

“I’ve enjoyed my time greatly in both and I certainly won’t be a stranger at Falkirk. I’m disappointed to leave but I have to do what is right.”

Bullen will continue coaching in England. He has been invited into Sheffield Wednesday’s training Academy to work with teenage players.

“I’m stepping away from full-time football, and I know how hard it will be to get back in,” said the former Stenhousemuir player.

“But I haven’t always been a footballer - I’ve had a full-time job before and once my job is settled I hope to keep my eye in at the Academy.

“I know Sean Macauley, the head of the Academy down there and it is a club that’s very special to me.”

Sheffield Wednesday was Bullen’s club before Falkirk, and he has clubs in Greece and Hong Kong on his footballing CV as well as Stenhousemuir and Whitburn Juniors.

He also has an honours degree in Sports Media and Broadcasting, but believes his man-management experience cajoling the characters in the dressing room wil prepare him for running a company.

Steven Pressley is disappointed to lose his right-hand man, but Bullen’s continued coaching might come in useful in future.

“Lee has become a very trusted friend and coach to myself. I can’t speak highly enough of Lee.

“It is a big loss to the football club, but I believe - I am sure - I will work with Lee again in the future, and the thought of that is one I very much look forward to.”

The club has not named a replacement but under-19s coach Neil McFarlane will shadow Bullen in the days after the Communities Cup match with Dundee United as the changeover takes place before he leaves on Friday, October 28. And he has high hopes for his final two matches.

“It’s no disrespect to Dundee United or Jackie McNamara and Thistle, but I’d love to leave Falkirk in a final, a semi-final and at the top of the league next week.

“I’ve had great times, my goal at Hamilton stands out on the playing side.

“And to coach a team to a final of any competition is a great achievement whether its the Ramsdens Cup or the Scottish Cup.

“I didn’t think the win against Hearts could be bettered, but it was against Rangers and to be in with a chance of reaching the top of the table if results go our way - it’s the least the players and management deserve.”