Football: Royle quits as chairman blocks signings

Joe Royle resigned yesterday as Everton manager after a day of behind- the-scenes wrangling over signings and the future of the Goodison club. Turning the team round could now become Bobby Robson's problem.

Royle informed the chairman, Peter Johnson, of his decision after a transfer deadline day of intrigue during which three prospective signings were blocked. He had wanted to bring in a pair of Norwegians, Tore Andre Flo and Claus Eftevaag, and re-sign Barry Horne from Birmingham City. However, Johnson stopped the deals.

Reportedly, Johnson was attempting to contact Robson, but the 63-year- old former England manager, who turned down the chance to take over from Kevin Keegan at Newcastle two months ago, could still take Barcelona to both the Spanish league title and the European Cup-Winners' Cup this season. Even if he was interested in the Everton job, a summer move would be the most likely.

The problems at Goodison began in the morning when SK Brann of Bergen demanded more money for Flo, claiming they had to give a percentage of the striker's fee to his previous club. Johnson felt the combined price of just under pounds 3m for the pair was fair and would not increase the offer.

Royle wanted the money paid and planned to bring in Horne as both a player and a prospective member of staff. The Welsh captain had agreed a three- year deal with Royle who was willing to pay pounds 250,000 for him, but Johnson saw this as a backward step. That proved the last straw.

With his planning in tatters, Royle clearly felt he had no option but to leave in circumstances similar to Howard Kendall's departure when the board stopped him from signing Dion Dublin three seasons ago.

In a statement, the club said the departure was with "mutual consent", but the pressure had been building on Royle. Only one win in 12 Premiership games from mid-December had raised fears that the Goodison side would be dragged into a relegation scrap, although those were partially allayed by the 1-0 home victory over Derby 11 days ago. But the Everton fans' indignation was clear again as the side slumped to a 2-0 home defeat at the hands of Manchester United on Saturday.

Royle's decision to drop his veteran goalkeeper, Neville Southall, twice for Paul Gerrard also mystified the board and some senior players as rumours of discontent grew.

However, the timing of Royle's departure is awkward as Everton still face a potential relegation struggle at the end of a poor campaign. It will be a difficult job for the next management team, which could include Dave Watson, the club's veteran defender, in the short term.

Royle, who had been one of the fans' favourite centre-forwards, was considered the Messiah of Goodison when he guided them to their FA Cup triumph over Manchester United in 1995, but the view had grown among the fans that he had to go.

The editor of Everton's main fanzine called Royle's departure "necessary''. Graham Ennis, who edits "When Skies Are Grey", said Evertonians had begun to voice concern about whether Royle was up to the job but he described the timing of his departure as "appalling''.

"I think everyone thinks it was necessary. Our postbag has been full of letters about Royle recently and very few of them have been in support of him," Ennis said. "I think there has been a reluctant acceptance of the fact that Joe Royle wasn't up to the job."

Ennis said that Royle's departure had left the club in the lurch. "I think it was inevitable that it would happen in the summer and I think it would have been better to leave it till then."

As one vacancy was created yesterday, another was filled. John Ward made a quick return to Bristol when he was confirmed as the new manager of Bristol City.

Ward left Bristol Rovers at the end of last season when they declined to offer him a new contract and has been working as assistant to Adrian Heath at Burnley, who like City are involved in the Second Division promotion race. He has signed a two-year contract at Ashton Gate.

"I'm delighted to be back. I made a lot of friends in the area and enjoyed the rivalry between the two Bristol clubs," said Ward, adding that nothing would please him more than for both City and Burnley to go up.

Ward will take charge of City for the first time when they entertain Gillingham on Saturday. City lie just two points off a play-off place.

News
peopleFrankie Boyle responds to referendum result in characteristically offensive style
Arts and Entertainment
Highs and lows of the cast's careers since 2004
News
news
New Articles
i100... with this review
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

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

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Cover Supervisor

£75 - £90 per day + negotiable: Randstad Education Group: Are you a cover supe...

Marketing Manager - Leicestershire - £35,000

£30000 - £35000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager (CIM, B2B, MS Offi...

Marketing Executive (B2B and B2C) - Rugby, Warwickshire

£22000 - £25000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A highly successful organisation wit...

SEN Coordinator + Teacher (SENCO)

£1 per day: Randstad Education Leeds: Job Purpose To work closely with the he...

Day In a Page

Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam