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South Africa

Barry Kilby surprised by Owen Coyle's "sideways" move

Burnley chairman Barry Kilby has spoken of his surprise that Owen Coyle opted to take a "sideways" move to join Bolton, but the Clarets will now begin their search for a new manager in earnest.

Coyle has agreed to become Gary Megson's successor at the Reebok Stadium following talks with the club he represented as a player between 1993-95. However, compensation must still be agreed between the two clubs.

Having reluctantly conceded that Coyle will be leaving Burnley, Kilby is disappointed that the manager, who turned down Celtic in the summer, has chosen to join a side that are currently two points below the Clarets in the league table.

Coyle leaves Burnley having won promotion to the Premier League last season and led the club to 14th place in the table at present, with 20 points from 20 games.

"We are all grown men and know how football works but it was quite emotional when Owen left," Kilby said. "He has a big affection for this club, there is no doubt about that. It has been a fabulous two years.

"I fully expected when he did move it would be upwards, not sideways to a club we are fighting a relegation scrap with. We were surprised. But I have been in football long enough to know these things happen and I don't think Owen took this decision lightly.

"It was with regret that he went and he did say to me there was only Celtic or Bolton he would leave Burnley for. But it has come at a bad time, that is for sure."

"I don't think we (the clubs) are best of pals at the moment. It did come at a bad time and it was an unwelcome approach. Owen felt Bolton do have a larger player budget than we have and it was his best way of remaining a Premier League manager, working with a budget of that size.

"It's been a trauma for the football club. None of us wanted Owen to go. It was a shock when all this broke."

Coyle has been placed on gardening leave while the two clubs come to an agreement and Burnley have installed coach Steve Davis as caretaker manager as they prepare for Saturday's Premier League game against Stoke City.

Out-of-work managers Steve Coppell and Paul Jewell are leading contenders to replace Coyle according to the bookmakers while Manchester United assistant manager Mike Phelan and Hibernian boss John Hughes are also amongst the favourites.

Kilby is keen to find a successor to Coyle as soon as possible, stating: "We have got to get going. Let's put this behind us and make sure we stay in this Premier League. We have to see who is out there. We need to get this one sorted out as soon as we can."

Meanwhile, Swansea have issued a hands-off warning to Burnley should they attempt to lure manager Paulo Sousa to Turf Moor. The Portuguese coach, who has guided the Swans to sixth in the Championship, is among a host of names being linked as a possible replacement for Coyle ahead of his anticipated move to Bolton.

Chairman Huw Jenkins told the South Wales Evening Post: "If a manager is relatively successful with a club in the Championship, he is always going to be mentioned when a vacancy comes up in the Premier League.

"But I would say two things. One, I don't think Burnley will be getting in touch with me. And two, even if they do, I think you can state that I won't be letting any club talk to our manager.''


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