Avram Grant
Avram Grant had appeared to be a marked man since his bosses tried to replace him with Martin O'Neill in January

Avram Grant was sacked as West Ham United manager last night, less than an hour after a 3-2 defeat tofellow strugglers Wigan confirmed their relegation from the Premier League.

The club confirmed the Israeli's departure after their 18th league defeat of a miserable campaign.

A club official statement issued an hour after the final whistle confirmed that Grant was "no longer the manager of West Ham United".

First-team coach Kevin Keen will take charge for the final game of the season at home to Sunderland next Sunday.

In his post-match interview Grant said "It is a very sad day, the saddest since I started football almost 40 years ago. I cannot put it into words."

Asked about his future, Grant added: "My future is not important now. All I care about is the commitment to the team and the fans.

The former Chelsea and Portsmouth boss Grant took over from Gianfranco Zola in June 2010 on a four-year contract. West Ham's owners David Gold and David Sullivan hoped that the Israeli could bring stability to the club and re-establish the Hammers as a Premier League force.

But the club quickly became mired in a relegation battle after losing their opening four matches and a disappointing first half of the season triggered reports that Grant would be replaced by Martin O'Neill.

In the end Grant hung on, and with the owner's behind him Demba Ba, Robbie Keane, Wayne Bridge and Victor Obinna were all recruited in the January transfer window.

Results improved as the club won three of five league games in February and March, including a 3-1 victory over Liverpool.

But five defeats in six league matches left West Ham needing a win at Wigan to have any chance of survival. The Hammers went 2-0 ahead before collapsing in the second half and eventually losing to a Charles N'Zogbia winner deep into stoppage time.

"Maybe this game was the story of our season. It's a tough day," Grant said.

In all, the Londoners won just seven league games all season, accumulating 33 points from 37 matches but perhaps the most damning indictment is that the club threw away 22 points from winning positions. With those points, the club would be seventh.

As it is, they will now start next season in the second tier of English football, £80m in debt and requiring a £40m injection of cash from the owners to endure relegation.

Despite the loss of revenue that relegation brings, West Ham have forecast more future spending. There are loan repayments due as well as some of the compensation owed to Sheffield United. But the most pressing is their move to the Olympic stadium in Stratford. They will have to invest at least £95m in Stratford, which includes taking a £40m loan from Newham council, adding half as much again to their current debt.

The stadium, Upton Park, and the training ground at Chadwell Heath have already been put up as security to the banks and Sullivan confirmed before the game that they were "in a worse financial position than any other club in the country". He has already ruled out the possibility of the club going into administration.

Last night Gold said: "This is undoubtedly the worst moment in all the years I've been supporting West Ham and of course I wish I'd done things differently."