Football: Lee leaves City with attack on club's managers

FRANCIS LEE'S turbulent reign at Manchester City's chairman ended yesterday for "personal, family and business reasons". The millionaire and former City striker, who was swept to power by popular support four years ago, was driven out by spectator miscontent as the club sit perilously in the First Division's relegation zone.

He went with a withering swipe at the Maine Road managers who he claimed have wasted millions on poor players and criticised the people inside the club who "have tried to blacken my name".

The 53-year-old Lee resigned as chairman and as a director, leaving his deputy, David Bernstein - a life-long supporter who heads the clothing chain French Connection - in charge. Dennis Tueart, another former City player, becomes director of football, with John Wardle, the boss of JD Sports, joining the board.

Lee paid pounds 3m for a 29.9 per cent stake in City in February 1994. Eight managers and pounds 30m spent on players later, they are facing relegation to the Second Division for the first time in their history - a struggle which still draws 30,000 crowds.

"My family life, personal life and business life have been severely disrupted by events over the past few months to such an extent that it has become impossible and impractical for me to carry on," Lee said in a statement.

"As a player I took great pride in playing for Manchester City and I was also very proud to have become chairman. Consequently, over the last four years I have tried very hard to create a situation where everyone would be proud, pleased and privileged to be associated with Manchester City.

"I feel I have done my very best for the club. However many improvements are made off the field it is the improvements on it for which the chairman is judged. I leave with my integrity and character intact."

Lee did not single out individual managers, but the bulk of signings under his chairmanship were made by Alan Ball and Frank Clark. "We have not bought quality and organised them right. It has not worked for us on the pitch," Lee said. "The purchase of players have not been worth the value we have paid for them, with the odd exception like Georgi Kinkladze."

He denied that he had interfered with team selection. "I have been accused of all kinds of things which are totally untrue," he said. "There are, behind the scenes at Maine Road, some very insincere people, who have tried to blacken my name. There were enemies within and without."

Bernstein, who was brought into the club by Lee, offered no quick remedy and stressed that the club will have to cut their cloth according to their finances.

"I know the tension that the supporters feel. I feel exactly the same way, absolutely awful," he said. "We will give it everything."

However, he suggested the possibility of standing aside if new money was forthcoming and many observers feel his spell as chairman will be short-lived. Mike McDonald, the Sheffield United chairman, has been pushing for a stake in City for some time.

The position of the manager, Joe Royle, who was appointed in February, appears secure.

News
election 2015The 10 best quotes of the campaign
News
A caravan being used as a polling station in Ford near Salisbury, during the 2010 election
election 2015The Independent's guide to get you through polling day
News
people
Voices
David Blunkett joins the Labour candidate for Redcar Anna Turley on a campaigning visit last month
voicesWhat I learnt from my years in government, by the former Home Secretary David Blunkett
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager (B2B) - Romford - £40,000 + car

£35000 - £40000 per annum + car and benefits: Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager...

Ashdown Group: Helpdesk Analyst - Devon - £20,000

£18000 - £20000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Helpdesk Analyst - Devon - £20,000 ...

Ashdown Group: Data Scientist - London - £50,000 + bonus

£35000 - £50000 per annum + generous bonus: Ashdown Group: Business Analytics ...

Ashdown Group: IT Project Coordinator (Software Development) - Kingston

£45000 - £50000 per annum: Ashdown Group: IT Project Coordinator (Software Dev...

Day In a Page

General Election 2015: ‘We will not sit down with Nicola Sturgeon’, says Ed Balls

'We will not sit down with Nicola Sturgeon'

In an exclusive interview, Ed Balls says he won't negotiate his first Budget with SNP MPs - even if Labour need their votes to secure its passage
VE Day 70th anniversary: How ordinary Britons celebrated the end of war in Europe

How ordinary Britons celebrated VE Day

Our perception of VE Day usually involves crowds of giddy Britons casting off the shackles of war with gay abandon. The truth was more nuanced
They came in with William Caxton's printing press, but typefaces still matter in the digital age

Typefaces still matter in the digital age

A new typeface once took years to create, now thousands are available at the click of a drop-down menu. So why do most of us still rely on the old classics, asks Meg Carter?
Discovery of 'missing link' between the two main life-forms on Earth could explain evolution of animals, say scientists

'Missing link' between Earth's two life-forms found

New microbial species tells us something about our dark past, say scientists
The Pan Am Experience is a 'flight' back to the 1970s that never takes off - at least, not literally

Pan Am Experience: A 'flight' back to the 70s

Tim Walker checks in and checks out a four-hour journey with a difference
Humans aren't alone in indulging in politics - it's everywhere in the animal world

Humans aren't alone in indulging in politics

Voting, mutual back-scratching, coups and charismatic leaders - it's everywhere in the animal world
Crisp sales are in decline - but this tasty trivia might tempt back the turncoats

Crisp sales are in decline

As a nation we're filling up on popcorn and pitta chips and forsaking their potato-based predecessors
Ronald McDonald the muse? Why Banksy, Ron English and Keith Coventry are lovin' Maccy D's

Ronald McDonald the muse

A new wave of artists is taking inspiration from the fast food chain
13 best picnic blankets

13 best picnic blankets

Dine al fresco without the grass stains and damp bottoms with something from our pick of picnic rugs
Barcelona 3 Bayern Munich 0 player ratings: Lionel Messi scores twice - but does he score highest in our ratings?

Barcelona vs Bayern Munich player ratings

Lionel Messi scores twice - but does he score highest in our ratings?
Martin Guptill: Explosive New Zealand batsman who sets the range for Kiwis' big guns

Explosive batsman who sets the range for Kiwis' big guns

Martin Guptill has smashed early runs for Derbyshire and tells Richard Edwards to expect more from the 'freakish' Brendon McCullum and his buoyant team during their tour of England
General Election 2015: Ed Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

He was meant to be Labour's biggest handicap - but has become almost an asset
General Election 2015: A guide to the smaller parties, from the the National Health Action Party to the Church of the Militant Elvis Party

On the margins

From Militant Elvis to Women's Equality: a guide to the underdogs standing in the election
Amr Darrag: Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister in exile still believes Egypt's military regime can be replaced with 'moderate' Islamic rule

'This is the battle of young Egypt for the future of our country'

Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister Amr Darrag still believes the opposition can rid Egypt of its military regime and replace it with 'moderate' Islamic rule, he tells Robert Fisk
Why patients must rely less on doctors: Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'

Why patients must rely less on doctors

Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'