MORTON have been dealt a fresh off-field setback after long-serving groundsman Mark Farrell decided to quit the club.

The award-winning groundsman, who has been with the club since 2004, tendered his resignation having secured a new job elsewhere.

News of his impending departure comes just days after he was involved in an astonishing bust-up with Ton assistant manager Anton McElhone at Cappielow following Saturday’s 1-0 victory over Arbroath.

The two men became involved in a heated argument in front of stunned onlookers whilst McElhone was overseeing a post-match routine on the pitch with substitutes.

Groundsman Farrell turned off the floodlights, preventing the Ton number two and the players carrying out their warm down, which left the assistant enraged.

This led to a heated row which saw McElhone and Farrell almost come to blows as they exchanged comments in front of club staff and players.

Chief executive David MacKinnon was forced to intervene and a furious McElhone left the scene, removing his jacket and verbally threatening to walk out of the club.

The Ton CEO today described the dispute as a ‘misunderstanding’ and told the Telegraph that it was in no way connected to the groundsman’s impending exit from the club, as he praised him for his work over the years.

He said: “There was a misunderstanding between the ground staff and the football staff and a potential health and safety issue in that the floodlights were switched off whilst players were on the park as part of a warm down process.

“This was a miscommunication and the matter will be resolved internally to make sure that potential health and safety issues surrounding players’ health and safety will not occur again.

“Mark Farrell had advised the club several weeks ago that he had a significant offer for further employment and the club had reluctantly accepted Mark’s resignation. Mark was a respected employee and we will be sad to see him go.

“Mark has given us a big notice period and he will leave in February.

“He leaves with our best wishes and he will always be welcome back at the club.

“Mark has kindly accepted my offer to be involved in the recruitment of his successor and we will work together over the next month or so to bring in a replacement who can continue to carry out the level of work that Mark has carried out during his time at the club.”

Farrell has served at Cappielow for the last 15 years and received regular recognition for his work, transforming the park at Cappielow into one of the best in the country and seeing the club receive a Platinum Pitch Award.

He has also worked for golf courses at Loch Lomond and Oxfordshire and the news of his departure follows the backroom turmoil caused after recent SFA disciplinary proceedings saw kit man Andy Bryan and physio Alyson Fielding both suspended.

Kit man Bryan was found guilty of breaching betting rules following an SFA probe and handed a 12-game ban while colleague Fielding, who was also cited in the same period, faces an eight-game ban.

The club is currently carrying out an internal investigation into the conduct of both employees.