SIMON Francis will replace Richard Hughes as Cherries’ technical director this summer.

It was announced earlier today Hughes will leave the club after more than a decade of service, initially as a player before working his way up to the boardroom.

Speculation has been rife over Hughes’s future in recent months, with a host of top clubs including Liverpool and Roma reportedly interested in his services.

But Cherries have moved quickly to confirm Hughes’s replacement, with Francis set to step into the role.

A former club captain, Francis has been working as assistant to Hughes since 2021, having initially taken a role at the club in recruitment after retiring from playing.

The 39-year-old made 324 appearances for Cherries between 2011 and 2020 after joining from Charlton Athletic for £25,000. Under Eddie Howe, he played a key role in the club’s rise up from League One to the Premier League.

Upon confirmation he will take on the role, Francis said: "I’d like to thank Bill Foley and Neill Blake for the opportunity to become the first-team technical director of the football club that has been my life for the past 13 years.

"Having been a part of the huge success the club enjoyed during my playing career, I have also been privileged to be a part of the recruitment department, transitioning from Premier League player to a senior scouting role, and then for the last three years as assistant to Richard.

“I can’t thank Richard enough for giving me the guidance and tutelage to understand what it takes to operate at the highest level of football. He is someone I will always hold in the highest of regards.

“From playing together in the same Eddie Howe team to working together off the pitch has been the perfect apprenticeship for me.

"But now I am proud to be able to play a part in the next chapter of this exciting, ambitious football club and look forward to continuing the work with Andoni and this group of players to help the club build towards an exciting future on and off the pitch."

Cherries owner and chairman Bill Foley added: "Simon has been a key part of our success, firstly with his performances on the field before working closely with Richard and Neill for the last three years off it.

“I'm excited for him to continue that great work, as we aim to sustain our position in the top flight and develop the squad even further over the coming years."

Hughes said: “Simon is a true club legend with an unsurpassed knowledge of what it requires to be a success on the pitch for this club and its loyal supporters.

“In the four seasons since his retirement from playing he has worked with enthusiasm and purpose behind the scenes to help the team get back to the levels achieved when he was club captain.

“With a humility to learn and a selflessness to help others, he is the ideal person to step into the role of first-team technical director and help continue the progressive trajectory the club is on.”