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Last Updated: Wednesday, 11 April 2007, 14:23 GMT 15:23 UK
Boss Sanchez 'to stay on at NI'
By Niall Glynn
BBC News website

Northern Ireland football manager Lawrie Sanchez has committed to staying until the end of the 2008 European Championship qualifying campaign, the IFA has said.

Sanchez is taking over at English premiership club Fulham after Chris Coleman was sacked on Tuesday.

Lawrie Sanchez
Lawrie Sanchez is the new caretaker manager of Fulham
He is to take over in a caretaker capacity for the final five games.

Howard Wells, chief executive of the IFA, said Sanchez can still fulfil his commitment to Northern Ireland and has pledged to see out his contract.

"Fulham have gone through the right processes, Dave McNally (managing director) of Fulham phoned me last night seeking permission to speak to Lawrie.

"Lawrie then spoke to me himself asking what our view was," Mr Wells said.

"It is a short-term appointment, he has given another commitment to me with regards to seeing out his contract with Northern Ireland.

"Fulham have also given me a commitment that this is an appointment until the end of the season for the remaining five matches and if circumstances change they will want to discuss things further with us."

Sanchez has steered Northern Ireland to the top of their European Championship qualifying group.

Northern Ireland's next qualifying match is not until August while Fulham's season ends in May.

IFA President Jim Boyce said the decision reflected well on the IFA and the outstanding job that Lawrie had done for Northern Ireland football.

"We wish both him and Fulham Football Club well for those matches ahead," he said.

"He has pitted his ability against some of the world's best managers over the past few months with excellent wins against some of the leading countries including England, Spain and Sweden, so it is hardly surprising that a Premier League club would be interested in engaging him."

Sanchez said in December that he was likely to step down from the role after the Euro 2008 qualifying campaign and make a return to club management.

He had been due to hold contract talks this month.

Winless streak

On Tuesday night, Fulham sacked manager Coleman and his assistant Steve Kean with immediate effect.

The Cottagers lie four points above the Premiership drop zone after a seven-game winless streak, but the sacking still comes as a surprise.

Fulham issued a statement thanking Coleman for his "fantastic service during his 10 years at the club".

Chris Coleman
Chris Coleman was sacked on Tuesday
"It is disappointing that the club has no alternative but to part company (with Coleman)," the statement continued.

"After consultation with the Irish FA president Jim Boyce, it is agreed that Lawrie Sanchez will join as caretaker manager for the remaining five Premiership games of the season."

Coleman joined Fulham as a player in 1997 in a 2m move from Blackburn, but injuries suffered in a car crash in 2001 led to his retirement less then two years later.

He took over as manager in April 2003 following the departure of Jean Tigana.

Sanchez has led Northern Ireland to the top of their European Championships qualifying group with victories over Spain and Sweden.

He also oversaw a famous 1-0 win over England in the last World Cup qualifying competition.

Northern Ireland fans speak to Mark Sidebottom

April contract talks for Sanchez
27 Mar 07 |  Internationals
Sanchez to go after Euro campaign
17 Dec 06 |  Internationals
Sanchez wants Celtic tournament
12 Dec 06 |  Internationals

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