Phil Brown in pole position to replace sacked Brian Laws at Burnley

Phil Brown in pole position to replace sacked Brian Laws at BurnleyPhil Brown has emerged as a strong favourite to succeed Brian Laws at Burnley and could be named as the Championship club's new manager as early as tomorrow.

Laws, approaching his first anniversary in charge at Turf Moor since succeeding Owen Coyle, left Burnley this afternoon when the board decided to sack him in the wake of disappointing results, culminating in yesterday's 2-0 home defeat to Scunthorpe United.

With Barry Kilby, the Burnley chairman, in New York, the 49-year-old Laws – a former player at Turf Moor who proved powerless to prevent last season's relegation from the Premier League – was dismissed during a telephone conversation.

Kilby said: "I have telephoned Brian today and asked him to step down as manager of Burnley. Everyone is naturally disappointed and frustrated that recent results have not gone as we would have hoped. The board of directors has decided that we need a fresh approach in order to achieve our goal of returning to the Premier League."

Laws released a statement through the League Managers Association to say: "Naturally I am very saddened to receive the news and disappointed that I will no longer have the opportunity to achieve my ambition of reaching the Championship play-offs this season and, ultimately, promotion back to the Premier League.

"I would like to take this opportunity to wish the club, the management, the players and the supporters all the very best for the future. I am taking advice from the LMA who will be working to reach an amicable agreement with the club on my behalf. Accordingly, I will not make any further comment at this stage."

Richard Bevan, the chief executive of the LMA, added: "We share Brian's disappointment at his leaving the club and we find the timing of his dismissal very strange in all the circumstances.

"The club is only two points off a play-off place with a game in hand. Burnley have the third best home record in what is a really competitive Championship, they have only lost six games this season and have not suffered back-to-back losses.

"Brian is an experienced and successful manager with over 800 games at every level of the professional game and I would expect him to be back managing in the game at a high level very soon."

Burnley intend to make a further statement tomorrow when the extrovert Brown – out of work since parting company with Hull City last spring – could come into the picture, although Preston North End could also be vying for Brown's attention after they parted company with Darren Ferguson today.

If so it will represent a significant strategic sea change on the part of a Burnley board who appointed the low-key Laws largely because a Deloitte report had highlighted that, during his time in charge of Sheffield Wednesday, he boasted an outstanding results-to-budget ratio.

Powered by article was written by Louise Taylor, for on Wednesday 29th December 2010 20.27 Europe/London © Guardian News and Media Limited 2010

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