Hughes leaves Craven Cottage
Mark Hughes has confirmed that he is leaving Fulham. The Welshman had been in charge of the West London outfit for just one season.
It is bound to lead to speculation that Hughes will now take over the vacant manager's job at English Premier League rivals Aston Villa. However, the Welshman insists he has not approached or been approached by any club.
Hughes said: "I hope the supporters and all those connected with the club will understand I wish to move on to further my experiences. I would also like to take this opportunity to clarify that neither myself nor my representative have approached or have been approached by another club. This decision to leave Fulham has not been influenced by any outside party," he added.
The 47-year-old did well in his first season with Fulham, guiding the club to an eighth-placed finish in the Premier League and earning them a return to Europe via the Fair Play League. He also built on a reputation initially forged at Blackburn and then Manchester City, where many felt he was unlucky to lose his job.
As it was not thought Hughes was under any pressure from Mohamed Al Fayed, it would appear a bold move to leave without having something else lined up. He had been installed as favourite to replace Gerard Houllier at Villa, although other names have come into the frame.
Nevertheless, Hughes' CV would pick him out as a suitable candidate for Villa, and a job would be regarded as a step up from Fulham if that is where Hughes eventually ends up.
He said: "I would like to thank the chairman, directors, players and fans of Fulham Football Club for their support over the last 12 months and wish them every success in the future. I believe my management team and I have done a good job and the club has a strong foundation from which they can go forward.
"I have especially enjoyed our excellent relationship with the chairman and chief executive (Alastair Mackintosh)," he went on. "I sincerely wish Fulham a successful campaign in the Europa League next season and for their continued progress on and off the field."
The Cottagers tonight acknowledged the development in a statement. It read: "Fulham Football Club can confirm that Mark Hughes has provided notice, under the terms of his contract, to leave the club at the end of June. After discussions with Mark the club has agreed to accept this notice."