In an extraordinary turn of events, league leaders FC Goa have announced the departure of Head Coach Sergio Lobera and his assistants Jesus Tato and Manuel Sayabera.
In the statement FC Goa released, the club did not specify the reasons for its decision and insisted the club have “mutually parted ways.” FC Goa are currently on top of the ISL, and with three games to go within touching distance of an AFC Champions League spot which makes the decision taken by the management hard to fathom.
Meanwhile, Sergio Lobera released a statement on his Instagram page. Although the statement is mostly PR boilerplate, the coach did mention that they were “really unhappy” about the club letting them go.
Reports indicate Lobera, assistant coach Jesus Tato and conditioning coach Manuel Sayabera were served termination letters a couple of days ago on Friday afternoon. Sergio’s departure has been on the cards for a while with various internal conflicts and issues, but a fall-out with the players nearly a fortnight ago proved to be the final straw.
After Sergio lost the dressing room, the management were left with little choice – they had to make a decision now or risk the discontent within the players disrupting their campaign.
There are also reports which hint at a pay dispute – Sergio Lobera is the highest paid coach in the ISL and he was looking for an improved contract after leading the side to the 2018-19 ISL final where they lost to Bengaluru FC. They also won the Super Cup last season. The FC Goa management have reportedly baulked at the rise in pay and were looking to negotiate with a wage closer to what Sergio was making currently.
Other sources indicate a few more reasons for Lobera’s departure:
The news of the termination reached the press before the club could put out a statement. This was largely because Lobera and his staff refused to sign the letters and sought time to consult with their legal advisers.
Clifford Miranda will be the interim coach while the Technical Director Derrick Pereira will be on the bench and address the press. FC Goa are up against Hyderabad FC next on the fifth of February.