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Allardyce leaves Bolton on the verge of qualification for the UEFA Cup, with Wanderers chairman Phil Gartside confirming in a statement that Allardyce has left the club amid rumours he could be appointed as Manchester City boss in the summer.

Gartsidesaid: 'I have reluctantly accepted the resignation of Sam Allardyce after eight years of unprecedented success at the club.' A BBC Panorama investigation linked him to a bungs scandal, though Allardyce refuted the accusations made in the programme and threatened the programme-makers with legal action.

Panorama's 'Undercover: Football's Dirty Secrets' claimed that Allardyce and his son Craig, formerly a football agent, were given illegal payments to facilitate player transfers.

He has apparently revealed his reasons for stepping down to Gartside, but the Bolton chairman wants the matter to be kept private.

Gartside said: 'I would like to thank Sam for his enormous contribution to Bolton Wanderers, both as a player, but more importantly as a manager.

'Since joining the club as manager in October 1999, he has helped lead a fantastic transformation of this famous Lancashire club and has helped design and build an infrastructure that will enable the club to continue the progress that we have undoubtedly made in his period of office.

There was little indication that Allardyce was intent on walking away from the club he joined as an apprentice.

Only eight days ago in his programme notes before the home match with Reading - which they lost 3-2 - he spoke of the immediate challenge ahead.

Allardyce said: 'The main aim is to finish top of our league, and top of our league means fifth.

'I think that would be a major plus for a club like ours.

'I still maintain that around the 60-point mark would be the optimum total to achieve our aim.'