Stephen Azzopardi yesterday resigned as Birkirkara coach following a disagreement with the club over the appointment of Jan Artz as joint coach.

Contacted by The Times yesterday, Azzopardi said: "I decided to step down after the club informed me that Jan Artz's official role was that of joint coach.

"They put forward this idea of having two coaches with equal powers over first-team affairs but such arrangement was not acceptable to me."

Appointed Birkirkara coach in December 2001 following the resignation of Alfred Cardona, Azzopardi steered the club to a string of domestic honours, including three FA Trophies and the Premier League last season.

"I had been coach of Birkirkara for five years and three months," Azzopardi said.

"It was certainly a most positive experience and I will forever treasure the memories of the successes Birkirkara achieved during my time as coach."

This season, Birkirkara have struggled to put up a strong challenge to retain the title.

Azzopardi's position was undermined by back-to-back defeats to rivals Valletta, coupled with his dismissal from the subs' bench following an argument with a Birkirkara fan last week.

The club leadership reacted to the team's slump by hiring Artz to work alongside Azzopardi until the end of the season.

Birkirkara official John Borg told The Times: "The club's board of directors met this morning to discuss the positions of Stephen Azzopardi and Jan Artz.

"Our proposal to have the two coaches working jointly was rejected by Azzopardi who subsequently resigned from his post.

"The board of directors accepted Azzopardi's resignation. Jan Artz is now in charge of the first team until the end of the season.

"Birkirkara FC would like to thank Azzopardi for the service he gave to the club."

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