Reading manager Steve Clarke has this morning, in his pre-match press conference, given his reasons for turning down the vacant managerial role at Fulham to stay at the Madejski Stadium.
The ex-Chelsea defender looked set to join the Cottagers at one point yesterday afternoon after meeting the club’s hierarchy for talks with reference to the post recently vacated by the sacked Kit Symons.
Social media went into meltdown at one point with many Royals fans blasting Clarke for showing a lack of loyalty and desire to stay with the Berkshire-based club.
The boss, who will now remain at the Madejski Stadium for the foreseeable future, has spoken out on why he chose to stay put despite undergoing talks.
He told the media: ‘I am here for the rest my contract I hope. It has been a strange week but I know I made the right decision.
‘I understand the anger among supporters, but when someone is prepared to pay money to speak to me, it is something that as a professional I have to look at.
‘I went to Fulham and decided what I had here was better for me. It wasn’t about money – it was about ambition and professionalism. I didn’t want to think what if.
‘I have a better option to stay here and this was the best option for me by a mile.’
Steve Clarke will reportedly remain in charge of Reading after a breakdown in talks with Fulham over the vacant managerial position.
The 52-year-old was widely expected to take over at the West London outfit prior to the weekend, having been earmarked as the Cottagers’ number one choice.
Soon after Clarke cancelled his weekly Madejski Stadium press conference on Thursday morning, fresh reports emerged suggesting that Nigel Pearson was the frontrunner to succeed the ex-Chelsea coach as Royals boss.
According to Sky Sports News, a fresh twist to the fast-developing saga has now seen Clarke make a shock U-turn and reject Fulham’s approach, meaning that he will remain in place in Berkshire for this weekend’s visit of Bolton Wanderers.
It is suggested that the move is not completely dead in the water, though, and Reading’s Championship rivals could make a fresh approach – with improved terms – in the coming days.
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.
Fulham are in talks with Steve Clarke after making an official approach to Championship rivals Reading.
Clarke has been given the green light to speak with Fulham officials and could be appointed as manager in the next 24 hours if negotiations are successful.
Fulham made their move for the Scot on Wednesday and want him to succeed Kit Symons, who was sacked earlier this month.
Clarke’s move to Craven Cottage is ?far from complete, however, with personal terms yet to be agreed, but Fulham are hopeful of reaching an agreement on Thursday.
Reading only appointed Clarke in December but ?he guided the club to Championship survival and an FA Cup semi-final while this season he has led them to the brink of the play-off places.
Fulham have moved for the 52-year-old ahead of other contenders including Nigel Pearson, the former Leicester manager, and Uwe Rosler, who were also on their shortlist.
Clarke was interviewed by Reading before Symons was appointed last year but is now poised to take over officially before the weekend.
Fulham are 12th in the Championship after an inconsistent start to the campaign, despite spending around £7million in the summer in a bid to build a squad capable of a promotion challenge.
This weekend they face a trip to Milton Keynes Dons.