Nicolas Anelka’s ill-fated season with West Bromwich Albion ended in acrimony tonight, along with his career in England.
Anelka is due to start a five-match suspension imposed for making the “quenelle” gesture. It became clear he would never return from the ban when he marked his 35th birthday by using social media to announce he had torn up his contract with West Bromwich Albion to “retain his integrity”.
The club was swift to respond describing Anelka’s behaviour as “highly unprofessional,” adding “the club has received nothing formally regarding the termination of Nicolas Anelka’s contract from either him or his advisers.”
A few hours later it announced it had sacked Anelka for 'gross misconduct' due to a combination of his 'quenelle' gesture, and his claim to have quit the club without following contractual procedure. They have written to Anelka giving him 14 days' notice of termination.
On his official twitter account Anelka said he was unable to accept “certain conditions” Albion wished to impose to “reintegrate” him into the club when his suspension expires.
Albion revealed these were that he 'apologise to the club, its supporters, sponsors and the wider community for the impact and consequences of his gesture made on December 28 and secondly, that he accept a substantial fine.'
Anelka will thus take his leave of English football even more dramatically than he arrived as a fleet-footed teenaged goalscorer 17 years ago. He ultimately played for six English clubs, scoring for them all, but none of his goals, even the one that sealed the Double for Arsenal the FA Cup final against Newcastle United in 1998, had as much impact as the last two, in a 3-3 draw against West Ham United on 28 December.
He celebrated by performing a gesture then unknown in England but recognised in France, where the match was being broadcast, as being associated with anti-Semitism.
Anelka told an independent regulatory commission it was made in support of his friend Dieudonné M’bala M’bala, a French comedian who has been convicted seven times of anti-Semitic crimes, but the commission accepted he had not intended to be anti-Semitic.
Anelka started Albion’s league games while before the case was heard but after the verdict was suspended by the club. Lifting that suspension required Anelka making the aforementioned apology and accepting the fine.
Anelka wrote, in French, on his official Twitter account that in discussions with the club “propositions were made to me in order to reintegrate me into the squad under certain conditions that I cannot accept. Wishing to retain my integrity, I have therefore taken the decision to free myself and put an end to the contract linking me with West Bromwich Albion.”
Albion were the sixth club Anelka played for in England after Arsenal, Liverpool, Manchester City, Bolton and Chelsea. However, he has only scored six goals in three seasons, half of those in China, and the last two appear to have caused more trouble than they were worth.
- More about:
- West Bromwich Albion