Coppell's departure mourned by Reading

Manager steps down after delivering 'most successful years in the club's history'

Reading, the football club known to older supporters as the Biscuitmen rather than the more modish Royals, were looking for crumbs of comfort yesterday after defeat in the Championship play-off semi-final by Burnley prompted the resignation of Steve Coppell as manager.

Coppell offered one reason for optimism in pointing to the club's solid financial position, which will be improved by a second and final Premier League parachute payment of £11.2m this summer. "We've made money this year," he said. "We might have gambled more but this club works within its budget. There is no credit crunch here."

Now, however, Reading face the problem familiar to all clubs relegated from the Premier League who do not make an immediate return: whether to spend the parachute money on new players or keep it for the rainy days that will surely follow if they fail again next season. The club will also have to decide whether to cash in on some of their key players such as Kevin Doyle, Stephen Hunt and Noel Hunt or try to retain their services for another push at the Premier League.

Sir John Madejski has proved a supportive owner, and although he wishes to sell the club to an even richer entrepreneur who can invest serious money, he knows that the chances of obtaining the right price are much lower as a Championship club.

For once a chairman's tribute to a departing manager sounded genuine when Madejski said yesterday: "I'd like to thank Steve sincerely for everything he has done for Reading over the last five and a half years, which has been the most successful period in the club's history." Coppell added: "I feel it's the best thing for both the club and myself for me to leave. I've thoroughly enjoyed my time as Reading manager."

The frustration for everyone at Reading has been the number of automatic promotion chances they have wasted. Always among the favourites to go up, they were second at the end of January after completing a double over eventual champions Wolves at the Madejski Stadium. That proved to be the last home win of the season, however, nine further games passing without one. Even then, victory in the final league match over Birmingham would have sufficed but Birmingham won 2-1 to return to the Premier League at the first attempt instead.

Coppell is expected to take a break rather than retire. He may have more than 1,000 games as a manager under his belt, but is still only 53, having started when Ron Noades appointed him at Crystal Palace in 1984 aged only 28 for the first of his four spells at the club. He subsequently managed Manchester City, for only 33 days, and later Brentford and Brighton, before joining Reading in October 2003 when Alan Pardew left for West Ham.

They were promoted as champions in 2006 with 106 points and then finished eighth in the Premier League, missing a place in Europe by a point. But last year they were relegated as "second season syndrome" set in.

Bookmakers have made Watford's Brendan Rodgers, a former Reading player and academy director, favourite to take over as manager, although a local newspaper poll did not mention him and had Alan Curbishley and Glenn Hoddle far ahead of the field.

One difficulty concerning the appointment is that Coppell was one of few managers to work successfully with a director of football, in Reading's case their former goalkeeper Nicky Hammond. Much will depend on whether candidates are prepared to accept him, or want to make a change.

Whoever takes over will find that the Cameroonian centre-half Andre Bikey will be unavailable for the first three games of next season and possibly more. He was yesterday charged by the Football Association with improper conduct after a wild display of dissent when sent off in the final minute of the semi-final first leg on Saturday.

Royals ascent: Who could step up

Brendan Rodgers

Watford manager is favourite to take the helm. Rodgers may be the popular choice having been a Reading player and managed the Royals' youth team between 1995 and 2004.

Odds: 4/7 (Ladbrokes)

Aidy Boothroyd

Currently available, he gained promotion with Watford to the Premier League through the play-offs in 2006. May make extensive changes to the Royals' style of play.

Odds: 8/1

Alan Curbishley

Managed Charlton for 15 years, gaining promotion to the Premier League twice. Avoided relegation with West Ham on the last day of 2006/07 season. Currently without a club.

Odds: 5/1

Paul Ince

Excellent record in the football league with Macclesfield and MK Dons, maybe the Blackburn job came too soon for Ince. Reading could be the perfect route back into management.

Odds 11/1

£11.2 million

The amount that Reading will be paid next season by the Premier League after they were relegated in 2008.

Susan Sarandon described David Bowie as
peopleSusan Sarandon reveals more on her David Bowie romance
sportDidier Drogba returns to Chelsea on one-year deal
Arts and Entertainment
Christian Grey cradles Ana in the Fifty Shades of Grey film
filmFifty Shades of Grey trailer provokes moral outrage in US
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Louis van Gaal would have been impressed with Darren Fletcher’s performance against LA Galaxy during Manchester United’s 7-0 victory
The new dawn heralded by George Osborne has yet to rise
voicesJames Moore: As the Tories rub their hands together, the average voter will be asking why they're not getting a piece of the action
newsComedy club forced to apologise as maggots eating a dead pigeon fall out of air-conditioning
Arts and Entertainment
Jo Brand says she's mellowed a lot
tvJo Brand says shows encourage people to laugh at the vulnerable
Rhys Williams
commonwealth games
Life and Style
People may feel that they're procrastinating by watching TV in the evening
Arts and Entertainment
Southern charm: Nicolas Cage and Tye Sheridan in ‘Joe’
filmReview: Actor delivers astonishing performance in low budget drama
Isis fighters travel in a vehicle as they take part in a military parade along the streets of Syria's northern Raqqa province
Life and Style
fashionLatex dresses hit the catwalk to raise awareness for HIV and Aids
Life and Style
The veteran poverty campaigner Sir Bob Geldof issues a stark challenge to emerging economies at the Melbourne HIV/Aids conference
Arts and Entertainment
Benedict Cumberbatch and John Malkovich talk Penguins of Madagascar at Comic-Con
comic-con 2014Cumberbatch fans banned from asking about Sherlock at Comic-Con
Arts and Entertainment
Chris Pratt stars in Guardians of the Galaxy
filmGuardians Of The Galaxy should have taken itself a bit more seriously, writes Geoffrey Macnab
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating

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

Career Services

Day In a Page

Backhanders, bribery and abuses of power have soared in China as economy surges

Bribery and abuses of power soar in China

The bribery is fuelled by the surge in China's economy but the rules of corruption are subtle and unspoken, finds Evan Osnos, as he learns the dark arts from a master
Commonwealth Games 2014: Highland terriers stole the show at the opening ceremony

Highland terriers steal the show at opening ceremony

Gillian Orr explores why a dog loved by film stars and presidents is finally having its day
German art world rocked as artists use renowned fat sculpture to distil schnapps

Brewing the fat from artwork angers widow of sculptor

Part of Joseph Beuys' 1982 sculpture 'Fettecke' used to distil schnapps
BBC's The Secret History of Our Streets reveals a fascinating window into Britain's past

BBC takes viewers back down memory lane

The Secret History of Our Streets, which returns with three films looking at Scottish streets, is the inverse of Benefits Street - delivering warmth instead of cynicism
Joe, film review: Nicolas Cage delivers an astonishing performance in low budget drama

Nicolas Cage shines in low-budget drama Joe

Cage plays an ex-con in David Gordon Green's independent drama, which has been adapted from a novel by Larry Brown
How to make your own gourmet ice lollies, granitas, slushy cocktails and frozen yoghurt

Make your own ice lollies and frozen yoghurt

Think outside the cool box for this summer's tempting frozen treats
Ford Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time, with sales topping 4.1 million since 1976

Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time

Sales have topped 4.1 million since 1976. To celebrate this milestone, four Independent writers recall their Fiestas with pride
10 best reed diffusers

Heaven scent: 10 best reed diffusers

Keep your rooms smelling summery and fresh with one of these subtle but distinctive home fragrances that’ll last you months
Commonwealth Games 2014: Female boxers set to compete for first time

Female boxers set to compete at Commonwealth Games for first time

There’s no favourites and with no headguards anything could happen
Five things we’ve learned so far about Manchester United under Louis van Gaal

Five things we’ve learned so far about United under Van Gaal

It’s impossible to avoid the impression that the Dutch manager is playing to the gallery a little
Screwing your way to the top? Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth

Screwing your way to the top?

Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth, says Grace Dent
Will the young Britons fighting in Syria be allowed to return home and resume their lives?

Will Britons fighting in Syria be able to resume their lives?

Tony Blair's Terrorism Act 2006 has made it an offence to take part in military action abroad with a "political, ideological, religious or racial motive"
Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter, the wartime poster girl who became a feminist pin-up

Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter

The wartime poster girl became the ultimate American symbol of female empowerment
The quest to find the perfect pair of earphones: Are custom, 3D printed earbuds the solution?

The quest to find the perfect pair of earphones

Earphones don't fit properly, offer mediocre audio quality and can even be painful. So the quest to design the perfect pair is music to Seth Stevenson's ears
US Army's shooting star: Lt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a military uniform

Meet the US Army's shooting star

Lt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a military uniform