Dowie quits Palace to seek fresh challenge

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The Independent Football

Iain Dowie is no longer the Crystal Palace manager. Yesterday, sitting alongside the club's chairman, Simon Jordan, he announced that he was leaving the club with immediate effect by mutual consent.

Dowie read out a statement saying that for "family reasons" and a need for "new challenge" he could not continue as manager.

These sentiments were echoed by Jordan, who added that aside from the "geographical difficulties" - Dowie's family still live in Lancashire - he, as chairman, could not go into a new season with a manager who might not be around to complete the 46-game fixture list. This way, said Jordan, the pair were parting on amicable terms and unless, of course, the Northern Irishman were to take the vacancy at Charlton Athletic it will stay that way.

"I would be disappointed if Iain were to turn up at Charlton," Jordan said. "He understands my view."

Jordan was also keen to stress that both had waived their right to financial incentives: the chairman will not seek compensation from Dowie and the latter waived "a considerable contract obligation from the club".

"There was no acrimony just a difference of agenda," Jordan said. "He wants to return to the North-West, while I still have to get this club into the Premiership."

However, Dowie's agenda remains unclear. Although he stated that he wanted to spend more time with his family, he refused to rule out a move to another London club and did not specify whether he was in fact moving north.

"Unlike Simon, I'm not independently wealthy, so I would like to be in a job," Dowie said. "I need to work for a living and I need to consider everything that is on offer. Obviously, some things would be better than others." Though he would not be drawn on which jobs are better than others.

"I leave here with a heavy heart," he said. "I have had a wonderful time. There have been some terrific highs, and some real lows." One being the 3-0 defeat to Watford in the Championship play-off semi-final, first leg at Selhurst Park which effectively ended Palace's push for promotion.

This it seems was another contributing factor in Dowie's decision to leave. Would he have left if the club had been promoted? Neither would answer but Jordan said: "Last season [2005-06] was a disappointment. We are now a Championship club. Not a club that's just been relegated from the Premiership."

But Dowie leaves Palace in better shape than when he took over in December 2003. Back then Palace were languishing in the bottom half of the Championship, within six months they had been promoted to the Premiership.

And despite their immediate relegation and subsequent return to the Championship, he leaves the club in a relatively stable position. Therefore it was genuine when Jordan said that he and Dowie had a mutual respect and that the former Oldham Athletic manager had taken "great strides" with club. Including turning the club's biggest asset, Andrew Johnson, into an England international.

Jordan confirmed he had rejected an £8m bid for the striker. A possible replacement for Dowie is Graeme Souness, who is currently out of work and Jordan is known to be an admirer.

Dowie has not yet told the players, who are on holiday, but thanked them and all the back-room staff. The future of Dowie's assistant, Neil McDonald, is unclear, but Jordan said that Dowie's brother, Bob, who is director of football, would stay for the time being.

By the time the players return on 4 July for pre-season training, however, Jordan may have already appointed a successor.