Micky Adams was talked out of quitting as the manager of Leicester City after the imprisonment of three of the club's senior players, who remained in a Spanish jail last night on charges of sexual assault.
Speaking publicly for the first time since the incarceration of Paul Dickov, Keith Gillespie and Frank Sinclair, who were arrested following allegations by three German women, Adams revealed yesterday that he had offered his resignation.
"I felt I had a moral obligation to speak to the chairman [Jim McCahill] and the board - to say to them that if they felt I wasn't the right man to take this club forward from this stage, then I would step down," Adams admitted to a press conference at the Walkers Stadium.
"Fortunately for me, they assured me they wanted me to stay. That gave me strength. It would be easy to walk away from this situation, and I did consider quitting on the darkest day when the three boys were charged and taken away. But I've never run away from anything and I owe it to the Leicester fans to see this through."
Adams, clearly nervous but giving a determined and dignified performance, was "absolutely convinced" of the innocence of Dickov, Gillespie and Sinclair on the charges of "sexual aggression".
He visited them last Thursday at Sangomera La Verde jail, in Murcia, after they were taken there from the La Manga resort where the Premiership stragglers had booked into a winter training camp.
"Seeing them down in the cells will live with me for a very long time," Adams said. "They are shocked, horrified and scared. They are also concerned about their families, and how they might be treated while they're over there."
Adams did not, however, absolve the trio of all blame. If they were guilty of anything, it was of being "unprofessional" by drinking. He deemed himself "guilty of not imposing a curfew" on the players, who knew they were due on the practice pitch by 10.30am "bright and breezy".
"I accept some criticism because I didn't impose a blanket ban. But I treat my players like adults. We went out there on the Sunday, 13 days before the next game. Though I can't be with them 24 hours a day, I told them about their responsibilities. We were back at La Manga [where Stan Collymore set off a fire extinguisher in a drink-fuelled episode on Leicester's 2000 visit] and we had a duty to behave ourselves.
"A small minority let themselves down by drinking to a certain amount of excess in the early hours of the morning. This was a trip arranged to do some specific work. In our situation in the League we obviously need some wins, and we wanted to integrate some new players as well as to work with a new coach [Steve Cotterill].
"But I'd like to say that the three players are innocent until proven guilty, despite the hysteria and trial by some parts of the media. At the moment they're not guilty of anything. I certainly haven't lost faith in them.
"I admit I was shocked when I first heard the allegations, but I won't prejudge them. I'll support them as best I can until there's a trial date set. Then, hopefully, the truth will come out and they can get back to England and concentrate on what they do best."
Adams is convinced that the full facts have yet to emerge and his belief is strengthened by an assertion that certain aspects of the case have already been misrepresented.
"I know that some of the players that were charged were not even there [nine Leicester players were originally arrested and three others have been charged with breaking and entering the women's hotel room]. Forget what you've read: we have statements and witnesses to prove they weren't there."
Leicester's players returned to their suburban training ground yesterday. Adams, who described it as "another wasted day for me, dealing with things that aren't related to football", characterised the squad as "subdued". He expressed concern that the crisis would damage their prospects of escaping the Premiership relegation zone.
"It will harm our situation if we're not mentally strong. If we believe everything that's written about us, we're already down. But I've told the players to look at the League table. We're not down, we're a point from safety. Somehow, we've got to pull together to prove the doubters and the cynics wrong."
Meanwhile, in an unusual twist on normal practice, the Leicester squad gave Adams a vote of confidence. "The players wish to affirm their commitment to the club and the manager," their statement read.
"We can assure our fans that we will be concentrating our efforts on preparing for Saturday's match at Birmingham. We will not allow events of the past week to undermine those preparations."
However, those preparations will not immediately involve Dickov, Gillespie or Sinclair who were last night facing at least another night in jail. The trio's lawyers have applied for them to be released from prison and a Leicester spokesman said the club was "hopeful and optimistic" about a release in the near future.
However, such a decision could take several days, according to a court source yesterday, who added that the investigation could take up to a month, irrespective of whether they are bailed.Reuse content