Torquay United hope Martin Ling will return by May
Torquay United have revealed that absent manager Martin Ling has been suffering from a stress-related condition.
It is the first time that any details about the cause of Ling's illness have been released, since he was forced to pull out the day before the win at Exeter City on January 28.
At first, it was thought that Ling might be suffering from a virus, but as it became clear that he would not be able to return quickly – and United slid down the table on a run of defeats – the Plainmoor board acted and installed current manager Alan Knill on February 21.
Speaking at yesterday's annual shareholders' meeting, United chairman Simon Baker released a statement, approved by Ling and the League Managers' Association.
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Baker said: "Martin has been receiving specialist treatment for a stress-related illness. He would like to express his thanks to Torquay United, the LMA and the football community for their support and understanding over recent weeks."
Father-of-two Ling, 46, is now believed to be recovering at home in Hertfordshire while Knill, with help from Ling's assistant Shaun Taylor and his former Bury and Scunthorpe No.2 Chris Brass, tackles the task of trying to keep Torquay in the Football League.
Under questioning from shareholders, Baker confirmed that Knill will stay to the end of the campaign and would almost certainly have a role to play in drawing up United's retained list. But he said: "We are hoping that Martin will be back to plan the future of the club in May.
"Alan has been absolutely brilliant, very generous with his time and very undemanding in terms of his charges."
Of Ling, who has a one-year rolling contract, Baker added: "Martin has an absolute right to come back. He has managed us extremely well, and we continue to pay his wages."
It had already been reported that United lost £111,589 over the year to June 30, 2012, after making a near-£100,000 profit on the 2010-2011 season, and the 2011-2012 accounts were unanimously approved at the AGM.
United are up to 19th in League Two, after ending an 11-match winless run with Tuesday's 2-1 victory over Chesterfield, and they are now preparing for tomorrow's key home game against one-from-bottom York City.
The Gulls have also announced an extension to their 2-4-1 ticket deal, in conjunction with the local Herald Express newspaper.
The voucher offer applies to the York and Barnet game at Plainmoor on Saturday, April 13. The voucher applies only to tickets for the Family Stand and must be exchanged at the ticket office in advance or on match day.