West Ham, Gianfranco Zola Agree on Settlement After His Dismissal

West Ham and former coach Gianfranco Zola reached an agreement to settle all issues in relation to his departure from the English Premier League soccer club.

Zola, 43, was fired in May after the Hammers finished one place above the relegation zone. He’s been replaced by former Chelsea and Portsmouth coach Avram Grant.

“West Ham United would like to thank Gianfranco Zola for his efforts during his time at the club,” West Ham said in a statement today, which was also released on the League Managers’ Association website.

Neither the club nor the LMA disclosed terms of the settlement.

West Ham finished 17th in the 20-team league, and didn’t secure its place in the top division for next season until the next-to-last round of games.

Zola came under criticism from new co-owner David Sullivan, who took over the club in January. In March, Sullivan told supporters the team’s performance in a 3-1 home loss to Wolves was “shambolic” and “pathetic.”

Today, Zola said he’d “thoroughly enjoyed” his time at the east London team. Steve Clarke, his former assistant, is also leaving, by “mutual consent,” the Hammers said today.

“I will always be very grateful to the club for giving me the opportunity to manage in the Barclays Premier League, especially at a club with such a great tradition in positive and attractive football,” Zola said in the statement. The Italian said he wanted to return to management as soon as possible.

First Job

Zola took the post, his first club coaching job, when he replaced Alan Curbishley in September 2008. He had been assistant manager of Italy’s Under-21 team.

After finishing ninth in Zola’s first season, West Ham won just one of its first 10 games in the 2009-10 campaign. Media speculation over his future began after Sullivan and David Gold took over as the team continued to fall down the Premier League standings. West Ham rebounded to win two and draw two over the final six games to avoid the drop.

Zola played for clubs including Chelsea, Napoli and Parma, as well as the Italian national team.

To contact the reporter on this story: Peter-Joseph Hegarty in London at phegarty@bloomberg.net

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