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Wells sacked by Irish FA

Howard Wells has been sacked as the Irish Football Association's chief executive, the governing body have announced.

The IFA said they had taken this step "in the best interests of the association and the member clubs".

The news came out of the blue as Wells attended the World Cup qualifier in Slovenia, where Northern Ireland lost 2-0 on Saturday.

A short statement read: "The Irish Football Association has today terminated the employment of its chief executive in the best interests of the Association and the member clubs."

Wells became the IFA's first chief executive in November 2004 - he had held similar posts at Watford and Ipswich.

An experienced sports administrator, he was the inaugural chairman of UK Sport and also chaired the Central Council of Physical Recreation.

The Belfast-based position was created as part of the reorganisation of Northern Ireland football under the government's soccer strategy.

Wells told the Press Association tonight: "The matter is in the hands of my legal advisors and that is all I'm saying. I'm not prepared to make any further comment."

There has been tension between Wells and IFA president Raymond Kennedy for some time.

It was revealed in August that Wells had taken a grievance case against his employer, claiming he had been treated unfairly because he was English.

Then last week it was reported he was a leading contender for the chief executive's position at the Football Association, which Brian Barwick will vacate at the end of the year.