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West Ham Fires Grant After Loss Demotes Club From Premier League

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West Ham United Football Club Manager Avram Grant
West Ham United's manager Avram Grant, center, gestures during the English Premier League football match against Wigan Athletic at The DW Stadium in Wigan, north-west England. Photographer: Glyn Kirk/AFP/Getty Images

May 16 (Bloomberg) -- West Ham’s six-year Premier League stay came to an end as it squandered a two-goal lead to lose 3-2 at Wigan, which boosted its fight against relegation. The Hammers are also looking for a new coach.

Less than 1 1/2 hours after demotion from English soccer’s top league, West Ham said on its website that Avram Grant “is no longer the manager.” It is Grant’s second straight relegation after taking Portsmouth down last season.

West Ham owners David Sullivan and David Gold have said dropping out of the elite 20-team division will cost the club 40 million pounds ($65 million). Gold has said that players will have to be sold.

“This is undoubtedly the worst moment in all the years I’ve been supporting West Ham and of course I wish I’d done things differently,” Gold said on Twitter.

Charles N’Zogbia got the winner in injury time to put 19th-place Wigan onto 39 points along with Blackpool, in 18th, and 17th-place Birmingham City. Wolverhampton Wanderers and Blackburn have 40 points. The bottom three teams are relegated after the 38-match season.

Birmingham lost 2-0 at home to Fulham and is only out of the relegation places on goal difference. West Ham has 33 points with only one game remaining.

Elsewhere, Chelsea, which two days ago relinquished its league title to Manchester United, tied 2-2 against Newcastle, Aston Villa won 2-1 at Arsenal and Tottenham beat Liverpool 2-0.

Needed a Win

West Ham, needing a win to have any chance of keeping its Premier League status, absorbed early pressure from Wigan before Demba Ba gave the Londoners a 12th-minute lead.

The striker, signed from Germany’s Hoffenheim in January, headed a Thomas Hitzlsperger cross into the net after Wigan struggled to clear from a corner.

The lead was doubled 14 minutes later, Ba finishing from close range. A Frederic Piquionne shot was cleared off the line by Wigan’s Ben Watson soon after and the score remained 2-0 at halftime.

N’Zogbia started Wigan’s fightback with a free kick on 57 minutes, before Conor Sammon slotted a low shot into the net 11 minutes later for his first Wigan goal.

Both teams pushed forward for a winner and N’Zogbia supplied it in injury time, firing a shot under West Ham goalkeeper Robert Green.

“We showed how much we wanted to win the game,” Wigan manager Roberto Martinez told his team’s website. “It was an example of how much the players feel about the club, their careers and the pride they have in what they do.”

Birmingham Loses

Next weekend, Wigan is at Stoke City, Blackpool at Manchester United and Birmingham at Tottenham. Wolves host Blackburn.

Birmingham missed an opportunity to boost its survival chances, suffering a home defeat at St. Andrew’s as Brede Hangeland got both Fulham goals.

Chelsea is assured of taking second spot even after being denied a win by Steven Taylor’s injury-time goal for Newcastle. Branislav Ivanovic and Alex scored for the Blues, with Jonas Gutierrez getting Newcastle’s other goal.

Two Darren Bent goals lifted Villa to the win at Arsenal, who scored late on through Robin van Persie.

Tottenham moved ahead of Liverpool into fifth place with a win at its rival. Rafael van der Vaart and Luka Modric, from a penalty kick, scored at Anfield.

Two days ago, Manchester United drew 1-1 at Blackburn to secure its record 19th league championship, Blackpool beat Bolton 4-3, Wolves won 3-1 at Sunderland, and West Bromwich Albion defeated Everton 1-0.

To contact the reporter on this story: James Cone in London at jcone@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Chris Elser at celser@bloomberg.net

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