In one of the saddest episodes in recent sporting history, Leicester City have decided to sack the man who brought them Premier League glory only 9 months ago.
Italian Claudio Ranieri leaves after a poor run which saw the Foxes just a point above the relegation zone in the Premier League with 13 games to go.
The 65 year old guided Leicester to a 10 point Premier League triumph last May, as 5000 to 1 shots Leicester created a sporting fairy tale that generated worldwide headlines.
Earlier this month, the club gave 'unwavering support' to Ranieri. Now he is gone and one has to wonder the damage this will cause, not only to Leicester City, but to the Premier League. It says that avarice, money and status are more important virtues than soul.
Even if Leicester were relegated, the sheen would not have come off such a brilliant achievement.
To let Ranieri go, with the club still safe in the Premier League and with a fighting chance of reaching the Champions League quarter finals, seems short sighted in the extreme. And for the players that didn't work as hard as last year, a long look in the mirror is required. It stinks. It's a disgrace.
Here is the club's statement:
Leicester City Football Club has tonight (Thursday) parted company with its First Team Manager, Claudio Ranieri. Claudio, appointed City manager in July 2015, led the Foxes to the greatest triumph in the Club’s 133-year history last season, as we were crowned champions of England for the first time. His status as the most successful Leicester City manager of all time is without question. However, domestic results in the current campaign have placed the Club’s Premier League status under threat and the Board reluctantly feels that a change of leadership, while admittedly painful, is necessary in the Club’s greatest interest.
Vice Chairman Aiyawatt Srivaddhanaprabha said: “This has been the most difficult decision we have had to make in nearly seven years since King Power took ownership of Leicester City. But we are duty-bound to put the Club’s long-term interests above all sense of personal sentiment, no matter how strong that might be. “Claudio has brought outstanding qualities to his office. His skilful management, powers of motivation and measured approach have been reflective of the rich experience we always knew he would bring to Leicester City. His warmth, charm and charisma have helped transform perceptions of the Club and develop its profile on a global scale. We will forever be grateful to him for what he has helped us to achieve. “It was never our expectation that the extraordinary feats of last season should be replicated this season. Indeed, survival in the Premier League was our first and only target at the start of the campaign. But we are now faced with a fight to reach that objective and feel a change is necessary to maximise the opportunity presented by the final 13 games.”
First Team preparations for Monday’s Premier League fixture against Liverpool will resume on Saturday, with Assistant Manager Craig Shakespeare and First Team Coach Mike Stowell taking charge of the squad until a new manager is appointed.
Assistant Manager and First Team Coach Paolo Benetti and First Team Sport Science and Conditioning Coach Andrea Azzalin have also parted company with the Club and leave with our thanks for their service and best wishes for the future. The Board will now begin the recruitment process and will make no further comment until that process is completed.