TOWN look set to have Andy Ritchie installed as their new manager by the time they visit Scunthorpe on Saturday.
The former Barnsley boss watched yesterday's 2-0 home League I defeat by Blackpool from the directors' box.
He was listed as being present as a representative of Oldham Athletic, the first club he managed (between 1998 and 2001).
In true scout's style, he left 10 minutes before the end.
But barring last-minute hitches, he will return within days to succeed his friend Peter Jackson.
Town chief executive Andrew Watson, left frustrated last week by Phil Parkinson's eleventh-hour U-turn on taking the manager's job, would make no comment.
But Ritchie, who like Parkinson, was given a second interview after applying for the post, came back early from a Masters football tournament in Dubai to attend a match which looks likely to be Gerry Murphy's sixth and last as caretaker manager.
The 46-year-old former striker masterminded Barnsley's rise to the Championship last season, when they beat Town in the play-off semi-finals.
His new mission will be to repeat the feat with the Galpharm club - and then keep them in English football's second tier, a level they last played at in 2001.
Parkinson spurned Town last Wednesday in favour of a new three-year contract as assistant to Charlton manager Alan Pardew.
It's believed Ritchie, who began his playing career at home city club Manchester United and also had spells as Brighton, Leeds, Oldham and Scarborough, will be handed the same length of deal.
Ritchie has been out of management since November, when he was sacked by Barnsley.
He took notes throughout yesterday's match, which play-off chasers Blackpool won with goals by Claus Jorgensen, in the 29th minute, and on-loan Barnsley man Robbie Williams, in the 60th, leaving Town 16th.
A crowd of 11,432 (2,463 of them in the Blackpool end) saw Murphy suffer a first defeat during his spell at the helm.
Skipper Jon Worthington's booking means he will be banned for the home game with Millwall and visit to Northampton.