Burley denies exit rumours

FORMER Ipswich Town manager George Burley has rubbished reports that he is about to leave the hot seat at Southampton.

FORMER Ipswich Town manager George Burley has rubbished reports that he is about to leave the hot seat at Southampton.

Burley, who still lives in Ipswich and played for the club during Bobby Robson's glory days in the late seventies and early eighties, has denied newspaper reports claiming he has had enough of the politics at St Mary's.

Reports suggested Burley had cleared his desk at St Mary's Stadium in readiness to leave, following problems with internal politics.

But Burley said today: “The story is complete nonsense, I am very happy at the club. I am very surprised and upset by the article because I am very settled at Southampton.”

Burley was appointed by Southampton in December 2005 and last season led Saints to the play-offs, where they lost out on penalties to eventual play-off final winners Derby.

The man, who led Town to the Premier League via the play-offs in 2000 and into Europe the following season, added: “I am very pleased with how the Southampton squad is progressing for the new campaign and very optimistic we can improve on last season.

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“I am fully focused on the game at Watford a week on Sunday and looking forward to a good push for promotion.”

Saints' relegation from the Premiership and subsequent loss of parachute payments has forced Burley to preside over the sale of some of the club's most promising youngsters.

Last year Saints sold Theo Walcott to Arsenal, and this summer Gareth Bale was sold to Tottenham, while striker Kenwyne Jones was sold to Sunderland for £6m before the recent transfer window closed. Pele and Chris Baird have also left to ease Southampton's crippling debts.

A public scuffle among rival groups at St Mary's appears to have driven would-be investor Paul Allen, the Microsoft co-founder, away from investing into the club.

The Saints are also on to their fourth chairman in 12 months, Ken Dulien, after dispensing with the services of Leon Crouch in July.

Crouch was voted off the board at a specially arranged meeting just six months after taking over as acting chairman.

The New Forest-based businessman, who owns a 10 per cent stake in the Championship club, helped spearhead a takeover to remove Rupert Lowe from power last summer.

But Crouch was himself removed after ploughing around £4million of his own money into the club Burley has told friends he has grown increasingly disillusioned by events.

WHAT are your memories of George Burley as manager of Town? Let us know, starsport@eveningstar.co.uk