06.03.2018 13:20 h

Struggling Sparta Prague sack coach Stramaccioni

Sparta Prague said Tuesday they had sacked Italian coach Andrea Stramaccioni following a streak of poor showings by the 12-time Czech champions.

Hired last May, the 42-year-old former Inter Milan, Udine and Panathinaikos coach has led Sparta to the fifth spot in the Czech top flight with 11 of 30 rounds to go, trailing leaders Viktoria Pilsen by 14 points.

Last weekend, Sparta were held to a 1-1 draw by top-flight strugglers Zbrojovka Brno.

Sparta, the 2016 Europa League quarter-finalists, also crashed out of this year's edition in the third play-off round in August, beaten by Serbian side Red Star Belgrade.

"On Monday evening, the Sparta Prague board... dismissed Andrea Stramaccioni as the head coach of the first team," the club said on its website.

It added Stramaccioni's task was to start an "internationalisation" of the club whose last league title dates back to 2014.

The club has bought scores of foreign players for Stramaccioni, including the 2.9-million-euro ($3.6-milion) Israeli midfielder Tal Ben Haim from Maccabi Tel Aviv.

Sitting at a disappointing fifth spot after the autumn, Sparta signed Anderlecht's Romanian playmaker Nicolae Stanciu, the most expensive player in Czech league history worth 4.6 million euros.

Stramaccioni's "mandate for the spring was conditioned by an immediate improvement in the team's performance," Sparta chief executive Adam Kotalik said in a statement.

"Unfortunately, the first three rounds of the spring did not bring the expected progress and the management decided to make an immediate change," he added.

Sparta have won 12 titles in the Czech league which emerged following the split of former Czechoslovakia in 1993. They also won 24 Czechoslovak titles.

Foreign coaches -- other than Slovak -- are rare in the Czech league, with Stramaccioni being only the fourth in the history of the top flight.