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Wednesday, 28 February, 2001, 15:49 GMT
Rioch bust-up riddle
Dave Whelan
Wigan owner Whelan (r) with former boss Ray Mathias
Bruce Rioch's departure from Wigan Athletic is shrouded in mystery after the League Managers Association insisted he did not resign.

The Second Division club issued a statement in which they claimed Rioch had "requested that he be released from his position".

But a statement from the LMA said: "Having spoken with Bruce Rioch over press reports that he has resigned as manager at Wigan, we are able to categorically state that this is not true.

"We have advised Bruce not to make any public statement at this stage."

Bruce Rioch
Rioch stays silent
The LMA have thrown their weight behind Rioch after his sudden departure from Wigan.

The club's statement yesterday claimed: "After a marvellous career in football things have unfortunately not worked out for Bruce at Wigan, and he has requested that he be released from his position".

It is also being claimed Rioch left after a telephone conversation with Wigan's multi-millionaire owner Dave Whelan.

The official line when news of Rioch's departure broke was that he had left the job voluntarily.

But it now appears Rioch left after relations with his chairman became increasingly strained in recent weeks.

Having spoken with Bruce Rioch over press reports that he has resigned as manager at Wigan, we are able to categorically state that this is not true
  League Managers Association statement
Wigan are in fourth place in the Second Division and battling for an automatic promotion slot, and Rioch's decison came as a major shock.

Whelan told Rioch to quit in a telephone call from his home in Barbados, where he is on a golfing holiday.

It is understood Rioch had objected when Whelan criticised the performance of several players after the recent draw with Walsall.

Whelan is well known for his ruthlessness and consulted his fellow directors before he told Rioch that he was terminating his weekly contract.

The drama was missed by first team coach Colin Greenall who was off sick, but is now back at the JJB Stadium to take temporary charge.

Greenall revealed he had been taken by surprise by the series of events.

"I got a call yesterday asking if I would do the job until the end of the season and of course I said yes," said the 37-year-old.

"It was totally out of the blue, and I never expected it."

Director of football John Benson, who moved upstairs to take a seat on the board to make way for Rioch's arrival, said: "It was a complete shot out of the blue."

Wigan, meanwhile, are giving a trial to Italian goalkeeper Nuzzo Raffaele, who is currently registered with Reggiana.

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