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Crystal Palace axe Alan Pardew (with £5 million pay-off) and set up Sam Allardyce talks

Crystal Palace will hold formal talks with Sam Allardyce on Friday afternoon following the sacking of manager Alan Pardew and hope to make a swift appointment before their next fixture at Watford on Boxing Day.

The Premier League club have suggested that the former England manager is not the only candidate, but he is the outstanding preferred choice and has been for several weeks as Palace have been considering a change. He is likely to be ­offered a two-and-a-half year deal, including a seven-figure bonus for avoiding relegation.

Allardyce is, nevertheless, understood to want reassurances over how Palace is run – including its ownership structure, which changed at the start of this year with American investment – to bring in his own back-room staff and to have cash available in the January transfer window with the team in 17th place, just one point above the relegation zone.

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Alan Pardew with the man favourite to replace him as Crystal Palace boss, Sam Allardyce when they managers of Newcastle and West Ham respectively.

Palace sources insist other managers are under consideration, including another former England boss, Roy Hodgson, and the Wales manager – and former Palace player – Chris Coleman, but it would be a major surprise if Allardyce is not installed should terms be agreed.

Allardyce has been out of work since late September when the Football Association decided he had to go after just 67 days as England manager following revelations in The Daily Telegraph. Palace will also want assurances that there will be no repeat of Allardyce’s injudicious behaviour.

Only last week Allardyce declared that he would “probably [return to work] in the new year if not before” and that his experiences with England would make him a better manager. “That is behind me now,” the 62-year-old said. “That is a very difficult, dark ­period, but moving on, adversity makes you stronger.”

Talks are now taking place with Palace chairman Steve Parish, who reluctantly asked Pardew to leave after a dismal run of form. Pardew has received a significant pay-off, which will come close to £5 million if he does not find another job during the length of the last contract he signed, only last summer.

He is understood to believe ­Palace have acted hastily and was convinced he could turn around the team’s fortunes. However, ­Parish has been under pressure for several weeks, with a number of the club’s new American shareholders – not just principal investors Josh Harris and David Blitzer – ­increasingly worried about Palace’s plight.

Pardew won a stay of execution with the 3-0 home win over Southampton on Dec 3 but, since then, the side have drawn at bottom-placed Hull City and lost at home to Manchester United and Chelsea. Palace have won just six of their past 38 league games, taking relegation form from the end of 2015-16 into 2016-17. Despite reaching the FA Cup final last season, their points to games ratio (0.72) is the worst in all four divisions in 2016.

Unfortunately for Pardew, this has coincided with Harris and Blitzer, along with other US investors, buying a 36 per cent stake in the club for around £50 million. Ironically Pardew’s previously impressive stewardship was one reason why the Americans invested in the club in the first place.

Although Parish is responsible for the day-to-day running of Palace, and protected Pardew as long as he could, he is understood to have accepted a change was needed because of the risk of relegation and the lack of improvement.

Pardew damaged his prospects further by saying the club had shareholders who “perhaps don’t know a lot about football” and ­although several figures at Palace insist this was not directed at Harris and Blitzer – but some other small investors connected to them – it was not interpreted that way.

“I’m not going to blame other people [American co-owners],” ­Parish said. “Relegation is so costly and I feel with no blame attached we got ourselves in a rut and need a change. We hope a change will change things.”

Parish added: “We all bought into the decision to play a more expansive style of football [this season]. We all believed in it. That hasn’t worked. It’s no one’s fault. The players have been running their socks off for Alan, the spirit is good.”

Palace did move towards a more attacking style last summer with the recruitment of record signing Christian Benteke, Andros Townsend and goalkeeper Steve Mandanda but although they have scored goals, they have been defensively weak.

Parish added: “But now we’re going to wind the dial back the other way. We’re talking to a number of people to make sure we get this right. Nothing has been agreed.”

While no deal has yet been agreed with Allardyce, his powerful record as a firefighter against relegation, not least last season with Sunderland, and his ready availability make him the most attractive option to Palace.

The wording of the statement confirming Pardew had gone – saying he had been asked to “step down” – reflected the difficulty of the decision.

Pardew himself said: “Personally I have a lot of good feelings for this club and am sad that my time there has ended. I feel that I have a special bond with the club and hope that hasn’t been affected.”
Pardew, a former Palace player, left Newcastle United to take over at Selhurst Park in January 2015 after Neil Warnock was sacked with the club in the relegation zone.

The 55-year-old’s appointment was popular with supporters and results improved as Palace went on to avoid the drop comfortably by finishing 10th, their best final ­position in the Premier League era.


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