Ex-Bolton Wanderers boss Sammy Lee makes late U-turn and turns down Brighton for Southampton
SAMMY Lee has made a shocking last-minute switch to Premier League Southampton, hours after being unveiled as Brghton’s new assistant manager.
Wanderers had announced that their former boss, who had been working as head of academy coaching and development since 2012, was to become Sami Hyypia’s new number two at the Amex Stadium.
But after an incredible last-minute change of heart, the 52-year-old rejected the post to take up a late offer from the Saints to join new manager Ronald Koeman’s coaching staff.
Lee released a statement on Sunday detailing the timeline of his sudden U-turn.
“I was thrilled to be offered the job at Brighton and I was excited at the prospect of working with Sami Hyypia again - but, totally unexpectedly, I have been given an opportunity to work in the Premier League,” he said.
“I fully appreciate that this is not an ideal set of circumstances and I am very sorry for the inconvenience and any embarrassment my change of mind, after the announcement was made, has caused. However, at this stage of my coaching career, the opportunity to work again at the very top level of English football was not something I felt I could turn down.
“I hope that everyone at Brighton - including Tony Bloom, Sami Hyypia, Paul Barber and David Burke - and the club's fans can understand the difficult predicament I found myself in and why I made this decision.
“I would like to thank Tony, Sami, Paul and David for the opportunity to join Brighton and I genuinely wish them, the club and the fans the very best for the season ahead.”
Lee’s decision has not gone down well at Albion, with chief executive Paul Barber insisting that neither his club or Wanderers were aware of Saints’ offer.
He told The Brighton Argus: “It is extremely disappointing for the club, Sami Hyypia and those of us who worked hard to bring him here, that Sammy Lee has now reversed his decision after agreeing to become assistant manager.
“Nobody at our club or Bolton Wanderers, was aware of any interest from Southampton until several hours after we announced Sammy's appointment as our assistant manager. It's certainly not a situation any of us have come across before.
“Having already agreed his contract and terms with us to start work on Monday, we could have insisted on Sammy serving a notice period, but we all feel it would have been counterproductive to do so; and while it's incredibly frustrating for us we wish Sammy well.”