Foxes wield axe
Claudio Ranieri sacked by Leicester City
The Foxes have axed the popular Italian with the club hovering just one point above the relegation zone with 13 games left.
The 65-year-old, who signed a new four-year deal last August. was told the shock news after the team returned from Seville following a creditable 2-1 first leg defeat in the Champions League Round of 16.
A club statement said: “The board reluctantly feels that a change of leadership, while admittedly painful, is necessary in the club’s greatest interest.
“Claudio’s status as the most successful Leicester City manager of all time is without question. However, domestic results in the current campaign have placed the club’s Premier League status under threat.”
Vice-chairman Aiyawatt Srivaddhanaprabha added: “This has been the most difficult decision we have had to make in nearly seven years since King Power took ownership of Leicester City. But we are duty-bound to put the club’s long-term interests above all sense of personal sentiment, no matter how strong that might be.
“Claudio has brought outstanding qualities to his office. His skilful management, powers of motivation and measured approach have been reflective of the rich experience we always knew he would bring to Leicester City.
“His warmth, charm and charisma have helped transform perceptions of the club and develop its profile on a global scale. We will forever be grateful to him for what he has helped us to achieve.
“It was never our expectation that the extraordinary feats of last season should be replicated this season. Indeed, survival in the Premier League was our first and only target at the start of the campaign.
“But we are now faced with a fight to reach that objective and feel a change is necessary to maximise the opportunity presented by the final 13 games.”
Leicester have won just five top-flight games so far this season, and could become the first defending champions to be relegated since 1938. They have lost their past five league matches.
In December Ranieri was named Coach of the Year at the BBC Sports Personality of the Year awards.
Leicester-born Gary Lineker who played for the club said: “After all that Claudio Ranieri has done for Leicester City, to sack him now is inexplicable, unforgivable and gut-wrenchingly sad.”