Fulham to act quickly over manager

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The Independent Football

Fulham have vowed to move quickly to appoint a new manager after Martin Jol confirmed this morning he will be staying at Ajax.

The Dutchman had been in discussions with the Cottagers over replacing Roy Hodgson, who took over from Rafael Benitez at Liverpool at the start of this month.

But Fulham's hopes of securing their top target have been dashed after Ajax made it clear they did not want the former Tottenham boss to leave.

A statement on www.fulhamfc.com read: "On Thursday morning, following talks with Ajax, the club can confirm that it has ceased negotiations for the release of Martin Jol from his contract with the Dutch club.

"Although Fulham had agreed personal terms with Martin Jol, Ajax were not willing to allow him to leave under any circumstances, and have held him to the terms of the contract he signed last summer."

The statement continued: "When Fulham commenced negotiations with Martin Jol, the club was informed that an exit clause existed in his contract with Ajax.

"Subsequent negotiations revealed that the clause was no longer valid and Ajax remained steadfast in their desire to keep their manager, therefore dialogue between the two clubs has now ended."

Ray Lewington will remain in caretaker charge but, with the new Premier League season starting in less than four weeks' time, Fulham are under pressure to get a new man in.

"Since Roy Hodgson indicated that he wanted to leave Fulham, a short list of potential managers was identified, and the club is committed to ensuring that the right candidate is brought on board to continue the club's progress, in the soonest timeframe possible," said the statement.

"The chairman and CEO would also like to personally thank Ajax for their conduct throughout this very public process.

"Ray Lewington will remain in charge of all first-team matters as caretaker manager and the club would like to thank Ray, his backroom staff and all the players for their patience and professionalism ahead of the 2010/11 Barclays Premier League season."

Fulham are looking to build on the momentum achieved under Hodgson that saw them qualify for Europe for the first time and reach the Europa League final.

Jol was thought to be keen on a move back to England having led Tottenham to successive fifth-place finishes in 2006 and 2007 before he was sacked following a poor start to the 2007/08 season.

He told the Ajax website, www.ajax.nl, this morning: "Ajax let me know they didn't want me to go. And I don't think I can bring myself to leave Ajax at this time.

"I came here last summer to be successful, to build a good team and to have fun. And those three things are what I am interested in achieving next season."

It is thought Jol came to that decision following constructive talks with Ajax chief executive Rik van den Boog, who offered assurances any funds generated from the possible departures of big names Maarten Stekelenburg, Luis Suarez and Gregory van der Wiel this summer would be ploughed back into team strengthening.

Jol added: "The club and I share each other's concerns. Everyone knows that Ajax have financial difficulties.

"But we all want to perform better than last season. The expectations at Ajax are always high.

"Marko Pantelic, Dennis Rommedahl, Kennedy and Gabri have all left the club and we haven't added anyone yet.

"Also, there is the uncertainty about whether a few other key players will stay."

Jol, who joined Ajax from Hamburg last year, revealed it was not the first time he had been approached during his time in Amsterdam.

"I had offers from other clubs in April and May but brushed them aside," he said.

"But this time my agent Mino Raiola held serious talks with a delegation from the British club.

"I am pleased that these hectic days are over. We can now look to the future.

"We have a focus and that is Wednesday's (Champions League qualifier) against PAOK.

"We are all going to do our best to get the team to the desired level."

Van den Boog is pleased Jol will remain at the ArenA and insisted there is no problem between club and coach.

"It is annoying it has dragged on for a week," he told the Algemeen Dagblad newspaper. "But the important thing is the result and that is good because Martin continues at Ajax.

"There was a club that wanted our coach. And they approached him at a time when he didn't have a lot of confidence in the squad.

"The coach answered questions about it and was flattered by the attention - that I understand.

"But he is under contract with us and his relationship with the club is good."

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