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Former Blackburn boss regarded as man to drag Hammers to safety

EXCLUSIVE
By Wayne Veysey | Chief Correspondent

West Ham are preparing to sack Avram Grant and have lined up Sam Allardyce to be their next manager, Goal.com UK can reveal.

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The Hammers board have lost faith with Grant and are ready to become the next Premier League club to pull the trigger by bringing an immediate end to his six-month Upton Park reign.

The hierarchy believe Allardyce - who was only sacked by Blackburn earlier on Monday - is better qualified than Grant to arrest a decline that has yielded just 12 points from 17 Premier League games and leaves West Ham three points adrift at the bottom of the table.

Goal.com UK understands that they will make a move for Allardyce when his lawyers have negotiated his pay-off with the Lancashire club.

The 56-year-old, who was on a 12-month rolling contract at Ewood Park, was on a heavily incentivised deal worth up to £1.5 million-a-year.

Allardyce is highly regarded by West Ham co-owners David Sullivan and David Gold, who have publicly backed Grant and, although he has taken the club to the League Cup semi-finals, they have become increasingly concerned about his ability to drag them out of the relegation abyss.

It is believed that the option of sacking Grant is not as prohibitive as previously thought. Although the Israeli signed a four-year contract last June worth £1.3m-a-year supplemented by a six-figure bonus if West Ham maintain their Premier League status, there is understood to be a severance clause in his contract which means he will be paid £650,000 – six months salary – if he is sacked.

Frozen out? | West Ham have lost patience with Avram Grant and are ready to sack him

Survival specialist Allardyce took over at Rovers in December 2008 when they were 19th in the League and led them to safety.

He also established Bolton Wanderers as a top-half Premier League club during eight years at the Reebok Stadium and has a strong track record of moulding teams on shoestring budgets who punch above their weight.

He is also an attractive proposition because he is now available and there will be no compensation to pay.

Allardyce’s departure at Rovers comes just days after the club’s new owners, the Venky’s Group from India, sat down with him to discuss transfer strategy in the January window.

The Rao family, who completed their £43m takeover of Rovers through their newly formed company on October 19, have sub-contracted the club’s transfer operations to the Kentaro sports agency, which was also used by Manchester City following the takeover by the Thaksin Shinawatra consortium in the summer of 2007.

It is understood that Kentaro, who are headed by the super-agent Jerome Anderson and are tied up to the SEM stable that manages a famous client list including Thierry Henry, will play a major role in sourcing Allardyce’s successor.

There are strong rumours that the Rovers hierarchy already have the new man lined up, although this has been denied by the club.

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