Southampton sacked Mauricio Pellegrino on Monday "in a desperate attempt to avoid relegation from the Premier League," according to Matt Hughes of the LONDON TIMES. The club was concerned that it was "sleepwalking" toward the drop "after a dismal run of one win in 17 league games" that leaves it a place and a point above the relegation zone. The board "acted reluctantly in the hope that a disappointing season can still be salvaged." It would like to secure a replacement in time for the FA Cup quarterfinal against Wigan Athletic on Sunday. Premier League "survival is the club's priority," however, so getting the right man in charge before its next league game "is of greater concern." Southampton's next Premier League match is on March 31. Pellegrino was a "popular figure" at St. Mary's, having replaced the "more austere" Claude Puel last summer, but the Argentine "failed to translate his preference for possession football into positive results" (LONDON TIMES, 3/13).
LEADING CANDIDATE: In London, Jeremy Wilson reported Mark Hughes is the "leading candidate" for the vacant managerial position at Southampton, with the club working to finalize an appointment "over the next 24 hours." Southampton approached Hughes after prioritizing the need for EPL experience and an "immediate ability" to galvanize its "flagging squad." It represents a "change of emphasis from the recent appointments" of Mauricio Pochettino, Ronald Koeman, Claude Puel and Pellegrino from outside of the EPL. Hughes has been out of work since being sacked by Stoke City in January. He has also managed Wales, Man City, Blackburn Rovers, Fulham and Queens Park Rangers -- and is behind only Arsène Wenger, Alex Ferguson, Harry Redknapp, David Moyes and Sam Allardye on the list of most Premier League games (TELEGRAPH, 3/13). FOX SPORTS reported nine Premier League managers have been sacked this season: Frank de Boer (Crystal Palace), Craig Shakespeare (Leicester City), Ronald Koeman (Everton), Slaven Bilic (West Ham), Tony Pulis (West Bromwich Albion), Paul Clement (Swansea City), Hughes (Stoke City), Marco Silva (Watford) and Pellegrino (AFP, 3/12).
Premier League side West Ham is reportedly "likely to avoid being forced to play Premier League fixtures behind closed doors at the London Stadium," according to Mark Ogden of ESPN.com. The FA is "investigating the events of the weekend, which saw West Ham captain Mark Noble confront one pitch invader before wrestling him to the ground." West Ham co-Owners David Gold and David Sullivan "were subjected to derogatory chants by supporters close to the directors' box before being led away by security." Although West Ham "could face a heavy fine for Saturday's events, sources said that ground closure or points deductions are unlikely." Both sanctions are available to an FA Commission "should it be decided that the incident was worthy of such a penalty." But sources insisted that "both are at the extreme end of the scale, with no recent precedent of either punishment being applied" (ESPN.com, 3/12). SPORT WITNESS reported West Ham’s stadium and fan issues over the weekend "were not only unfortunate because of their existence but because of the timing." Fans "also protested to differing degrees" at Ligue 1 side Lille, Greek Superleague side PAOK and Bundesliga side Hamburg over the weekend and it is "all being presented as a shameful episode for football." That means the FA is "being pressured into acting tough with West Ham," and Spanish newspaper As reported if it does not, "then FIFA will move directly" (SPORT WITNESS, 3/13).
'OUR OBLIGATION': The BBC's Simon Stone reported a "leading West Ham supporters' group will vote this month on whether to reinstate plans for a protest march against the club's owners." The cancellation of a march on Saturday "was claimed as one of the triggers for crowd trouble against Burnley." The West Ham United Independent Supporters Association will ballot members on March 31. WHUISA Chair Mark Walker said, "If the majority of members want a march, it is our obligation to do that" (BBC, 3/12).
STICKING AROUND: In London, Adam Crafton reported London Stadium 185, the security agency that oversaw the "shambolic scenes," will stay in charge of the London Stadium. But LS185’s stewards "will almost certainly be supported by police inside the stadium" for the next home game against Southampton on March 31. West Ham wants to take security measures "out of the hands of LS185." The agency began a 30-year agreement with the London Legacy Development Corp. in Feb. '15, "meaning it is highly unlikely the security agency will relinquish control" (DAILY MAIL, 3/13).
Tottenham's Supporters' Trust "hit back at ticket prices" for the club's new stadium. Tottenham announced ticketing details, with the cheapest season ticket coming in at £795 ($1,110) and the most expensive priced at £1,995 ($2,787). While they are both "comparable to prices in the final season at the old White Hart lane," the Tottenham Hotspur Supporters' Trust believes other price points "are too high" (PA, 3/13).
ManU's players checked into the Lowry Hotel ahead of their Champions League match with Sevilla "just hours after a bomb scare in the city centre." The Lowry was "cordoned off earlier on Monday and a bomb disposal team was deployed following reports of a suspected World War II explosive being found on a building site." However, the scene was reopened "after analysis found it was not a bomb and not dangerous" (London DAILY MAIL, 3/12).
Southwark Council was expected to "make another step" toward saving "troubled" non-league club Dulwich Hamlet on Tuesday. The council's cabinet was expected to "unanimously approve a report into the acquisition of the freehold of Champion Hill ground from its owners," which is one step toward a compulsory purchase order. American property investment fund Meadow last week evicted Dulwich Hamlet from the ground and has "now set up new metal fencing outside to stop anyone from getting in" (London INDEPENDENT, 3/13).