BILLY BONDS severed a 27- year association with West Ham yesterday after claiming that the club wanted to 'reshuffle the pack' and replace him with his assistant, Harry Redknapp, offering Bonds a paid directorship.
'I declined that job because I still feel that I have something to offer as a manager,' Bonds said in a statement last night. 'I feel my record at the club has been good, and I leave them better off than when I started as a manager.'
Bonds' version of affairs just 10 days before the start of the new Premiership season is entirely different to that of the club, whose chairman, Peter Storrie, said: 'It was not a case of the club taking the managership away from Bill. He had decided to call it a day. He fully supports the appointment of Harry Redknapp.
West Ham were under threat of losing Redknapp, whom they value highly, to Bournemouth, his previous club, who had offered him the position of manager in succession to Tony Pulis, sacked last week, and also a seat on the board. That invitation was due to expire yesterday.
'We did everything possible to keep him. If Harry had gone to Bournemouth there was a good chance that Bill would have resigned anyway, so we were in a no-win situation.
'There is no ill feeling between Bill and the club. We are all sad that he is going. It is a big blow, but it is time to move on, and we believe we have appointed a great manager.'
Bonds agreed, at least, that there was no hard feelings. 'I wish Harry all the best.' He intends to take a couple of months off and then return to the game. 'I will be looking for something. I'm only 47 and I still think I've got plenty to offer the game.'
Describing Bonds as 'one of the all-time greats', the West Ham board said it would pay up the remainder of his contract, which has three years to run, in full.
Bonds, who played well into his 40s for the club, notched up a record 794 appearances and collected two FA Cup winners' medals as well as an MBE.
Newcastle have confirmed the signing of the Belgium defender, Philippe Albert, from Anderlecht for pounds 2.65m on a four-year contract.
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