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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

After 15 Years, Spartak Fires Coach Romantsev

Despite 10 league championships, three cups and 15 years together, Spartak Moscow and head coach Oleg Romantsev parted ways Thursday as he was sacked from the Premier League club.

Sitting in a packed news conference, Spartak president Andrei Chervichenko officially announced what everyone had known for days, that Romantsev had been sacked -- or as Chervichenko rather coyly put it, would be having a rest.

Romantsev has "had emotional overload and he needs some kind of rest," said Chervichenko, avoiding the words sack, fire or boot out as deftly as any Spartak dribbler did a defender.

"We do not want to part as enemies or with some kind of innuendo."

A few hours after the news conference, the soon to be ex-coach was still on the bench as his team lost 1-0 at home to Saturn RenTV, leaving Spartak just five points off the bottom of the table.

Romantsev will be asked to stay on until the end of the first half of the Premier League season on June 27 when the new trainers will take over.

If negotiations go as expected, former Spartak player and coach Georgy Yartsev will be brought in to head the coaching team. Russian under-21 coach Andrei Chernyshov will be chief coach, with former Spartak striker Sergei Yuran as his assistant.

Come the winter, Chervichenko said the club would be happy to offer Romantsev some kind of administrative post, but that depends on the unlikely event that the pair manage to repair a relationship that has disintegrated since Chervichenko bought into Spartak two years ago.

At first, Romantsev had boasted that Chervichenko's arrival, replacing him as president, was his doing. He was less proud later as the two continually clashed over what players to buy and the reason for Spartak's recent decline as a footballing force to be reckoned with. The pair have not talked for over a month, and remarkably the media were told about his dismissal before Romantsev's official notification by the club on Friday.

The dispute came to a head last Saturday, when Romantsev openly attacked the club's leadership the day before the Russian Cup final against Rostov.

Chervichenko responded by attacking the waste of money on dozens of players that have been bought and then discarded by Spartak, hinting at financial mismanagement verging on criminality. He said that when he arrived at the club the previous management, which had included Romantsev as president, had left the club's finances in a shocking state.

Reeling off a list of players and their costs in millions of dollars, he said that many of them were not appearing in the team, let alone on the bench or even in the squad.

Chervichenko even pointed out how Romantsev had made large amounts of money by selling Spartak shares after he had bought them cheaply in the early 1990s.

Spartak has often been plagued by internal problems and allegations of corruption. In 1997, the company's finance director was killed in an apparent contract killing. The Tax Police are currently investigating the 1997 sale of Spartak player Dmitry Alenichev to Roma after allegations that the $7 million transfer fee disappeared into a Swiss bank account.

Still, fans were vocal in their support of Romantsev at Luzhniki Stadium Thursday evening, and Chervichenko avoided the abuse aimed in his direction by staying away.

The departure of Romantsev, though, is an unpopular one with fans, for whom Spartak and the coach have become almost indistinguishable. For the last 15 years the sight of the hunched, chain-smoking Romantsev at the side of the pitch has been one of the symbols of Spartak, the only club that managed to keep playing successful football after the post-Soviet collapse that crippled the domestic game.

But the last two years have seen the club slump amid complaints that the Spartak style has disappeared. The team set a miserable record in last season's Champions League, going 17 games without a win and conceding 18 goals while domestically losing the Premier League title, only finishing third. This season the team has been unable to get out of the bottom half of the table and has continued to flirt with relegation.

A series of strange buys and the sale of veteran players due to personality clashes have weakened the team.

"Romantsev dug his own grave," said Vladimir Romanov, a journalist at Football Review.