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Departing Randall tells fans 'I'm sorry'.

Byline: RICHARD TAYLOR

LANCE Randall has apologised to Pertemps Bullets' fans after quitting as coach to take an assistant's role with a top American university.

Randall was told by owner Craig Bown last week he would have to apply for his own job if he wanted to return for the final season of his three-year contract.

It was a bizarre twist even by the standards of their rollercoaster relationship.

But after spending most of last season at loggerheads - with the players backing their coach in a series of disputes with the club's millionaire owner - Randall and Bown have apparently locked horns for the last time.

Ultimatum

Randall said: 'I feel sorry for some of the suffering that carried over to the players and the fans. I wish all the fans a successful season as Birmingham will always carry a special place in my heart.'

By the time Bown issued his ultimatum, Randall had celebrated his 31st birthday last Wednesday with the offer of an assistant coach's job at the powerful Division One St Louis University.

Bown clearly feels that Randall has run out on the club.

Equally clearly, Randall has had enough. He said: 'I have to say I was very disappointed at what was going on in ownership and management.

'I doubt if many people would be surprised by this, but I have still not received my last two pay cheques and I was short-changed on the previous one I did get.'

Bown says he feels short-changed by Randall's acceptance of the post in St Louis, but he put Randall in an untenable position by rejecting the coach's plans for next season.

Bown said Randall's masterplan 'was not good enough in terms of scope or depth' and that he was throwing the position open to other coaches.

Which of them will aspire to working with Bown will become clearer over the summer, as Bullets try to emerge from the fall-out of his bust-up with Randall at the end of a season in which they reached the Cup final and the second round of the North European Basketball League, but failed to qualify for the play-offs for the first time.

Bown said: 'I put faith in giving Lance, who had no experience of competition in Europe, an opportunity here at the Bullets.

'I am deeply disappointed that he does not seem able to do what it takes to complete our ambitions at the Bullets.'

The biggest losers are the fans, who once again have seen continuity destroyed and will have to acquaint themselves with a new coach and a new set of players.

They gave the team an emotional send-off at the last game of the season and Randall said: 'I am really going to miss the great people of Birmingham.

'The fans, co-workers and volunteers all treated me as family.

'I have made many friends for life and truly loved my time as a Brummie.'

CAPTION(S):

APOLOGY... Lance Randall
COPYRIGHT 2002 Birmingham Post & Mail Ltd
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Copyright 2002 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Title Annotation:Basketball
Publication:Sunday Mercury (Birmingham, England)
Date:Jun 9, 2002
Words:491
Previous Article:STEVE'S HAPPY FAMILY FINALE; Midlands pair step up chase.
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