The Brighton manager Gus Poyet last night turned down the offer to take over at Reading, and a £1.5m bonus if he kept them in the Premier League, to stay at the Championship club and push for promotion.
The former Chelsea and Tottenham midfielder had met with Reading owner Anton Zingarevich and director of football Nicky Hammond and given the go-ahead for contract negotiations to start. However, after a day of pondering the move and analysing the two squads' relative merits he decided to stay at Brighton, just outside the play-off places on goal difference.
Poyet was unhappy about the prospect of having a relegation against his name and was by no means certain, despite a great deal of confidence in his own ability, that he could keep Reading, seven points from safety, in the Premier League. By the time he pulled out, the deal was far enough down the road that a £2.5m compensation package had been agreed between the two clubs for the services of Poyet and his assistant Mauricio Taricco.
For their part, Brighton had already begun considering replacements for Poyet, who earlier in the week had been granted permission by the club to speak to Reading. There have been tensions at the club during Poyet's time in charge over the sales of players such as the transfer of Craig Noone to Championship rivals Cardiff City last summer.
Poyet was Reading's first choice and it is not clear who they will move for next. The former Southampton manager Nigel Adkins has been suggested but there is also the possibility that caretaker manager Eamonn Dolan will get the job until the end of the season.