The Barrow AFC hierarchy admit their next manager decision is one of the biggest in the club’s history – and they won’t waste time in making it.

The Bluebirds are sifting through early contenders for the top job after Rob Kelly informed the club he did not want to continue at the helm.

It has left Barrow looking for their fourth man in charge since last summer’s departure of Ian Evatt.

Chairman Paul Hornby has said an appointment within the next two weeks is the aim.

The club are targeting someone with experience to steer them through a second season back in the Football League.

And Hornby says the club do not want a repeat of this season, when they oversaw the short-lived reigns of David Dunn and Michael Jolley before caretaker Kelly guided them to League Two safety.

“When we had Ian Evatt we had him for two years,” said Hornby, speaking on BBC Radio Cumbria.

“You want to get back to having someone for years rather than months.

“It’s probably one of the most important appointments the club’s ever made in terms of longevity.

“We need to make that appointment quickly.

“Released lists are coming out now and there are players we want to make moves on.

“We’re chomping at the bit to make sure we don’t make the mistakes of the past, that we get League One and Two experience in, and replace the parts that never got replaced last year.”

Hornby would not be drawn on whether Kelly could remain at the club in a coaching capacity.

He said the experienced caretaker boss had simply wanted to inform the club of his decision at an early stage so they could get the ball rolling in the search for a new leader.

Hornby added: "We’ve put it out there now that we’re accepting applicants. We’ve already had a few come through; I think people knew there could be an opportunity here in Barrow.

“Generally you get your lot of applicants within your first 72 hours, and we won’t mess around.

“With Tony [Shearer, co-owner] being in the States we’ll probably do a virtual interview first, get down to a shortlist and then get them up in Barrow, show them round, look in their eyes and make sure they really want the position.

“I’d be hopeful that within a 10 day to two week period we’d be looking to make that appointment.”

Hornby admitted the club would have “loved” Kelly to remain in charge after his efforts in securing safety.

But the man brought in by Dunn as his assistant last year had decided the long-term No1 position was “not for him”.

The Bluebirds chairman added: “Whoever does come in, we’ve learned our lessons on recruitment in the past, we know we need someone who knows this league, we know we need experience.

“We avoided a bullet this time [in avoiding relegation] so we have to get it right the next time.”