In what may be a football first, Gustavo Poyet was sacked as manager of Brighton & Hove Albion last night while working on live television.
Brighton announced the termination of the Uruguayan's contract, which still had three years to run, on their official website during the first half of the BBC's coverage of the Spain v Nigeria Confederations Cup game. Poyet, a guest in the studio at Media City, Salford, found out when production staff passed him a copy of the club statement.
At half-time, instead of discussing the events of the opening 45 minutes in Brazil, Poyet, suspended by Brighton since May 16, was commenting on his departure from the Championship club after three and a half seasons in charge. “I think the BBC have got a great story,” Poyet said. “A manager getting released from his employment during the time of a programme is quite surprising.”
Poyet, who will appeal against the decision, claimed that he had had no news of his dismissal from the club, although there had been phone calls earlier in the day between 'representatives' – he was represented at a two-day internal hearing last week by Richard Bevan, the chief executive of the League Managers' Association. “Everyone can take their conclusion about the way that I've been informed,” he said.
Poyet added: “My idea now is to appeal and get back to the job I've been doing until 7.30pm,” but even if he wins that appeal, which will be before an independent panel, he is highly unlikely to continue his managerial career at Brighton. Although the charges against him have not been made public, The Independent understands that the relationship between manager and club began to deteriorate irretrievably months ago, the issue being the belt-tightening measures instituted in advance of Financial Fair Play rules that come into effect in the Championship next season, which affected his day-to-day management of his squad as well as his wage and transfer budget.
The club's statement, which seemed to contradict their now former manager's claim that the dismissal was news to him, said that “Gus Poyet has been informed today by Brighton & Hove Albion Football Club's internal disciplinary panel that his employment has been terminated with immediate effect This followed his suspension, an investigation, and a subsequent formal disciplinary process.”
With players reporting back today for medical tests ahead of pre-season, which begins on Thursday, Brighton will appoint an interim manager, with the favourite certain to be Oscar Garcia Junyent, the former Barcelona midfield player who recently left Maccabi Tel Aviv after leading them to the Israeli championship.
Poyet himself may now be free to take other jobs, having been linked recently with Newcastle United should Alan Pardew leave. “I need to inform myself well about what I can do and what I cannot do for the next few days before the appeal,” he said. “From what I read from the statement, I am unemployed. But it's difficult to say. ”
Poyet has been unable to speak to his players, who finished fourth last season, under the terms of his suspension, but he hopes that will now change. “It has been really sad because they gave me so much, they made me so proud, and not being able to answer a phone call or a text or email for legal reasons is unusual or me so now I would like, if I get permission, to make sure that they hear from me.
“And I would like to thank every single Brighton fan for being so patient with me and so supportive. I know how difficult it was in the beginning to change a way of understanding football, and they have been excellent with me all the time, they believed, they got convinced and I'm sure they are proud of the football team they have been watching for the last three-and-a-half years. I will try my best to be there next season but that will depend on the appeal, but I want to thank everybody a lot.”