Arsenal set to provide baptism of fire
Owen Coyle's first game in charge as the new manager of Bolton Wanderers could come as early as tomorrow's Premier League clash against Arsenal.
The 43-year-old Scot was granted permission by Burnley over the weekend to talk to Bolton's chairman, Phil Gartside, who immediately travelled to Glasgow, where Coyle was visiting family, to begin negotiations.
Burnley subsequently issued a statement yesterday admitting those talks had already taken place but without giving details. Coyle was due back in Burnley last night to see the club's chairman, Barry Kilby, to discuss the terms of his departure.
It is understood Burnley will seek up to £3m from Bolton in compensation for their manager. A clause stipulating that figure was reportedly inserted into Coyle's contract when he signed a 12-month extension to his pre-existing three-year deal in the summer.
Wrangling is expected over the size and timing of the pay-off but is not expected to delay Coyle's move across Lancashire.
Coyle is understood to have been attracted to the Bolton vacancy as soon as it arose after Gary Megson's sacking last week. The former Irish international is thought to earn around £750,000 per year at Burnley and could potentially treble that at the Reebok Stadium, if he meets bonus targets such as keeping the club in the Premier League.
Bolton are 18th in the table on 18 points from 18 games. Burnley are 14th with 20 points from 20 games.
Money is not Coyle's sole motivation -- far from it -- but it is a factor in his decision-making, as is the prospect of a decent run as a Premier League manager.
When Celtic offered him the chance to succeed Gordon Strachan in the summer, he turned them down to stay at Burnley because the rewards and the kudos at a Premier League club -- any Premier League club -- were perceived as higher.
Gartside has considered Coyle as a manager before; he short-listed him before Megson got the job and then recommended him to Burnley, where the manager moved from St Johnstone, then in the Scottish First Division, in November 2007.
Coyle spent the majority of his 22-year playing career in Scotland with his only English club being Bolton.