Glenn Moore: Heavy cost of Premier League relegation may mean sackings hit record high
Seven Premier League managers having parted company with their clubs already this season
Glenn Moore is Football Editor for The Independent and a Uefa B licence holder. Glenn has worked for the Independent newspapers since 1993, initially as cricket correspondent of the Independent on Sunday, subsequently as football correspondent of The Independent before becoming football editor in 2004.
Wednesday 05 February 2014
Tony Pulis and Gus Poyet are early contenders for manager of the season, but those of their peers who do vote for them may do so through gritted teeth. That is if they are still in a job come the annual May poll.
With seven Premier League managers having parted company with their clubs already this season, six of them fired, this is already the most worrisome campaign for people in charge since 2008-09 when nine men lost their jobs, seven of them fired. It may yet be the worst in Premier League history. That unwanted record is currently 1994-95 when there were 10 departures, but two involved managers upgrading to better jobs and only five were sackings.
Pulis and Poyet's successes have in part led to the high turnover. When Sunderland sacked Paolo Di Canio in September they had one point from five games. When Ian Holloway quit Crystal Palace they had three from eight. Both clubs appeared doomed, leaving only one relegation place for other clubs' chairmen to fret over.
However, the revivals Pulis and Poyet have engineered and the tight nature of this season's Premier League, means there are 11 clubs in fear of relegation (except for Andre Villas-Boas all the axed managers were at clubs battling the drop). Not only has that made owners more nervous, some have looked at what Pulis and Poyet have achieved and thought, "maybe a new manager will have the same effect at my club."
Fulham's Shahid Khan has, of course, already tried this when he axed Martin Jol. So far it has not worked.
The other factor is, as ever in the modern game, money. In recent years it has become so expensive to fire managers – whose salaries and support staff have risen exponentially – clubs have increasingly held off.
That followed an agreement by the Premier League and League Managers Association, put in place after the grim 1994-95 campaign, which established a procedure to ensure sacked managers were paid up. "It is too expensive to sack them now," 'Deadly' Doug Ellis, the infamous hire-'em, fire-'em, former Aston Villa chairman once lamented to me.
However, the new television deal means every Premier League club is guaranteed at least £60m for the next three seasons (last season's champions Manchester United received £61m, bottom club Queen's Park Rangers £40m). Even with parachute payments increasing to around £60m over four seasons, such is the income disparity between the Premier League and the Championship, relegated clubs will suffer an estimated £40m drop in income, a huge proportion of turnover in many cases.
So Swansea, though faced with a reported £4.5m bill for firing Michael Laudrup, still figured it was worth it. The question nagging at many other managers' minds, especially Rene Meulensteen's, is which other clubs will come to the same conclusion.
League Cup curse
Five of the last six managers to win the League Cup were sacked before the next final, with Sir Alex Ferguson the only man to escape the chop.
2013 winners: Swansea Michael Laudrup (sacked)
2012 winners: Liverpool Kenny Dalglish (sacked)
2011 winners: Birmingham Alex McLeish (sacked)
2010 winners: Man United Sir Alex Ferguson
2009 winners: Man United Sir Alex Ferguson
2008 winners: Tottenham Juande Ramos (sacked)
2007 winners: Chelsea Jose Mourinho (sacked)
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