Mark Miller’s stay on the Hibs bench came to an abrupt end yesterday when the Premier League club fired the English coach just days before the Paolites are set to play in the FA Trophy semi-finals.
In a terse statement, the Premier League club said that following lengthy negotiations over a new deal, yesterday morning Miller informed the committee that he was no longer interested in extending his contract.
Speculation was rife these past few days that Miller was in line to replace Jesmond Zerafa at Valletta FC next season.
These rumours continued to add fuel to the fire as the rivalry between these two clubs hit a peak last week-end when the Paolites slightly dampened City’s title celebrations by beating them 2-1 in the last match of the championship.
Hibs are now sure that Miller will be joining the champions, saying that he had been approached by Valletta weeks ago and had already accepted their offer.
“At this stage, both club and coach felt it was better to go separate ways and terminate the contract now,” the statement, signed by Hibs secretary Stephen Abela, said.
Miller, however, gave his own version of events when contacted by The Times and denied his new destination is already settled.
“I just informed the committee that this will be my last season at Hibs,” he said.
“I was offered a new five-year contract but my decision was to leave the club after four years.
“I wanted to complete the season and lead the team in the FA Trophy but they thought other-wise and insisted I should leave the club with immediate effect.
“However, I want to make it clear that this is not the right time to speak about my future. For sure, I haven’t signed any contract with any other club.”
Valletta FC president Victor Sciriha was surprised with Hibs’ statement that Miller had agreed terms with the Citizens.
“That was a wrong move from Hibernians as there’s no truth in it,” he said.
“What now, do they know what’s happening at our club better than us? We’ve signed no contracts with Mark Miller. Perhaps, I shall contact their secretary for clarification.”
Hibs play Ħamrun Spartans in the last four of the FA Trophy on Monday, looking to make up for their failure to dethrone Valletta for a second year running by winning the knock-out competition and end the season on a high note.
“I would have preferred not to stay idle this evening and continue with my work at Hibs as I love my job,” Miller, 49, said.
“I gave my all during my time there. This season, the boys did really well and we were the only side to beat the champions and seriously challenge them for the title.
“Now, I intend to take a few days off from football and then start thinking about my future and consider all my options in due time.”
Hibs acknowledged Miller’s contribution to the club and said they wanted to thank the coach for his sterling services.
During his time at Hibs, Miller led the side to a championship title in 2010 after a tense duel with Valletta that was resolved in the very last day of the season.
More importantly, the former Malta U-21 mentor was also instrumental in introducing a crop of young players from the Paola nursery to the first team, some of whom now also selected in the national squad.
Meanwhile, Hibs said that until a new coach is appointed the team will be under the hands of Richard Mercieca. He will be assisted by Ndubisi Chukunyere.
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