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Premier League

Tony Pulis: Crystal Palace manager quits on the eve of new Premier League season

Transfer disagreement with chairman prompts last campaign’s saviour to walk

Even before the Premier League season has begun, the top flight has seen its first managerial casualty of the campaign with Tony Pulis dramatically walking out on Crystal Palace after a row over transfer policy.

Less than 48 hours before Palace start their season at Arsenal, Pulis, whose appointment last November triggered a remarkable run from likely relegation to comfortable survival, departed the club.

Earlier in the day it was widely reported that Pulis and club co-chairman Steve Parish were holding talks to discuss issues relating to transfer dealings.

Pulis has grown frustrated over the summer by the club failing to push through deals for various players he targeted to strengthen the squad.

The row centred on transfer responsibility, with Pulis wanting more control of football matters, which has been the role of Parish and the sporting director Iain Moody. Ironically, Palace signed Liverpool full-back Martin Kelly. But Palace fans will be left wondering what Parish was doing in allowing Pulis to leave at all, never mind at this crucial time. The parting of the ways came after a long meeting between the two.

Pulis, 56, took over as manager in November last year after Ian Holloway, who had got Palace promoted the previous season, struggled with life in the Premier League.

Tony Pulis left Crystal Palace on the eve of the season

The former Stoke City manager was wary of joining Palace, with rumoured disagreements over budgets before he even joined. Yet once he took the plunge in November, Pulis worked an amazing turnaround with only limited funds and guided Palace to an 11th-place finish in the Premier League. He was also deservedly named Premier League manager of the year.

The expectation was that Palace would kick on during the close season and develop a squad to avoid a second relegation battle. But despite being linked to a number of players, including Steven Caulker and Gylfi Sigurdsson, that did not transpire. 

Palace’s assistant manager Keith Millen will be in charge for tomorrow’s trip to the Emirates. Pulis’s other coaching staff – including Gerry Francis and David Kemp – have been asked to stay for the Arsenal game before leaving the club.

Before reports of the meeting involving Pulis and Parish emerged, Palace completed the signing of Kelly on a three-year contract. The 24-year-old made his debut back in 2009 but found first-team opportunities limited, with a serious knee injury also ruling him out for a year.

Kelly, capped once by England in a 2012 friendly against Norway, became Palace’s fourth signing of the summer following the acquisitions of Chris Kettings, Fraizer Campbell and Brede Hangeland.

Confirming the move on their official website, the south London club wrote: “Crystal Palace are delighted to confirm the signing of versatile defender Martin Kelly from Liverpool for an undisclosed fee.”


Palace have also been linked with a move to bring their former forward Wilfried Zaha back to Selhurst Park after a difficult first year at Manchester United.

Speaking on Tuesday, Parish told Sky Sports News: “It’s up to the manager, the players we sign. It’s not up to me. I’m there to help him get the squad he wants. There’s a sentimental value and I loved Wilf as a kid and he did sensational things for us.

“I know the fans would like him back and that will play a part, but in the end the manager will decide what we do.”

Talk of Pulis possibly leaving Palace caused a stir earlier in the day, with former England captain Gary Lineker, now host of Match of the Day, writing on Twitter: “Seems that Tony Pulis is walking away from Crystal Palace. Extraordinary turn of events just 2 days before the start of the season.”

Malky Mackay, Chris Hughton and Tim Sherwood could be among the out-of-work managers who are linked to the vacancy.