Steve Clarke looks set to be named Fulham’s new manager later today after Reading FC cancelled this morning’s press conference.
The 52-year-old Scot yesterday emerged as the clear front runner to take over the vacant Craven Cottage hotseat following the sacking of Kit Symons earlier this month.
Odds on Clarke leaving Madejski Stadium tumbled dramatically from 25/1 to 4/6 with Bet Victor, sending Royals fans into a panic last night.
Bookmakers Coral priced Clarke as low as 1/3 to leave Reading and join the Cottagers, with Ladbrokes quoting 8/13, Paddy Power 4/11 and Sky Bet 2/5.
The prospect of Clarke moving to west London was the second most popular sporting bet across all major bookmakers yesterday.
And this morning all bookmakers bar Bet Victor had suspended betting on Clarke joining Fulham.
Rumours of Clarke’s imminent departure also intensified when the club cancelled this morning’s pre-match press conference ahead of Saturday’s Championship clash against Bolton Wanderers.
Royals sent an email to all local press yesterday stating: “We are intending to put the manager up for comment,” along with defender Anton Ferdinand, only to call it off at 8.30am this morning.
Clarke, who was also linked with Sunderland earlier this year, has 18 months remaining on his contract with the Royals, and his decision to leave the club has angered supporters.
The News invited Reading FC to comment on the speculation, but the club refused.
Clarke was rumoured to be on a three-man shortlist to replace Symons along with ex-Leicester City and Southampton manager Nigel Pearson plus Exeter City’s highly-rated Paul Tisdale.
Reports suggest that when Pearson turned the Fulham job down they made Clarke their number one target.
Nevertheless, his decision to leave Reading has led to a backlash from fans who feel he has left the club in the lurch, having signed 11 new players in the summer and replaced his backroom staff.
Speculation is now rife that Clarke does not see eye-to-eye with Reading’s new Thai owners, even though they have backed him in the transfer market.
Royals got their Championship campaign off to a blistering start and they climbed as high as second in the table before a recent run of five matches without a win saw them drop to eighth.
Clarke has strong links with the Fulham area, having been Jose Mourinho’s assistant at Chelsea between 2004-2008.
He then joined West Ham as Gianfranco Zola’s assistant, spent 18 months at Liverpool alongside Kenny Dalglish before taking his first job as manager at West Brom in 2012.
Clarke replaced Nigel Adkins as manager of Reading FC in December 2014 shortly after the club was taken over by a Thai consortium.