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Stoke chief denies quit talk

Peter Coates insists he remains as committed as ever to his role as chairman at Stoke City as he prepares for an end-of-season debrief which will decide the future of Tony Pulis.

• Blog: Pulis' final game?

Amid the speculation surrounding Pulis' position as manager, Coates has been mystified by increasing rumours that he is preparing to scale back his involvement at the Britannia Stadium by handing more control to his son, John.

Coates, 75, who made his millions from his gaming business Bet365, is expected to meet Pulis in the next 48 hours for talks which will decide whether Pulis remains in charge for a sixth successive season in the Premier League.

Also on the agenda could be a move to bring Phil Neville to the club as part of the coaching staff, with Stoke understood to have an interest in appointing the former Everton midfielder, who will be part of Stuart Pearce's England Under-21 coaching team this summer.

Pulis has made clear his desire to remain with the club, but is thought to be seeking assurances on transfer budgets and other matters following changes to the club's scouting and backroom staff.

While those areas remain unclear ahead of the meeting, Coates has poured scorn on suggestions that he will step aside, telling The Sentinel: "I'm staying on - and I always was.

"I don't know where this talk has come from. I can only assume it is a figment of the media's imagination.

"There has been nothing said by anybody at the club. The matter has never been discussed and is not an issue."

Coates said he still had plenty of energy and enthusiasm for the post he took up during his first spell as majority shareholder nearly three decades ago.

"I endure it sometimes, but that is football and that will never change," he said.

Coates' discussion with Pulis will also centre around clearing out several players from the existing squad this summer to ease the pressure on the wage bill.

Kenwyne Jones - currently at the centre of an internal club investigation into the pig's head prank at the club's training ground last Friday - and midfielder Wilson Palacios are certain to be allowed to move on.

Up to half a dozen senior players, including winger Jermaine Pennant and midfielder Rory Delap, are out of contract and destined to leave the club this summer.


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