WARREN Hawke has spoken out for the first time since resigning as Morton’s chief executive, saying ‘the club will always hold a special place in my heart’.

The 48-year-old, who had two spells with Ton as a player, returned to the club in 2012, initially taking on a role as consultant before being appointed chief executive and joining the board.

He oversaw the establishment of the club’s youth academy and launched its successful community trust, which has grown substantially over recent years.

But prior to the club’s last game of the season against Dundee United, he stepped down from his role.

He said: “It is with great regret that I have decided to step down from my role as chief executive and also director at Greenock Morton FC.

“I would like to put on the record my gratitude to the board and the Rae family for giving me the opportunity.

“To the late chairman Douglas Rae OBE and Crawford Rae, it has been a pleasure to work with you both. I feel very proud of what we have achieved over the last seven years, meeting our mission statement of creating ‘an academy Inverclyde can be proud of’.

“I look forward to monitoring the progress of all the exciting young talent that will progress into the first team.

“We have also created an award-winning community trust that I am particularly proud of as this was developed from a concept idea and vision seven years ago and has become what I believe is the best community programme in Scotland.

“There are many others areas of the club, too many to mention, that I believe are in a much better place for the work that has taken place over recent years.

“Signing for Morton in 1995 brought me north of the border to Scotland and to a place I now call home.

“The club will always hold a special place in my heart.

“I would like to pass on my thanks to all the directors, staff and volunteers: please keep up the good work. Finally, to each and every Morton supporter, thank-you for your support over the years and the very best wishes to you all for the future. Mon eh Ton.”