LONDON (AFP) - West Bromwich Albion announced on Friday that it had sacked banned French striker Nicolas Anelka for "gross misconduct", just hours after he announced on Twitter he was leaving.
Anelka, who turned 35 on Friday, was due to start a five-match ban after being punished for his controversial "quenelle" goal celebration at West Brom's 3-3 draw at West Ham on December 28.
Instead he announced he was terminating his contract with the Premier League club, a move it denounced as "invalid" - before formally sacking him with 14 days notice.
"Following discussions between the club and me, proposals have been made to me that I rejoined the group under certain conditions," Anelka wrote on his official Twitter account.
"I cannot accept. Wishing to keep my integrity, I decided to free myself and to terminate the contract linking me with West Bromwich Albion until 2014 as of now." Anelka's contract was set to expire at the end of the season and it had already been reported that he was considering quitting the Hawthorns after growing disillusioned over the controversy surrounding his now infamous use of what many regard as an anti-semitic gesture.
The ex-France international strenuously denied all allegations of being racist or anti-semitic and said the salute was to show solidarity with his friend, controversial French comedian Dieudonne M'Bala M'Bala.
West Brom, whose own investigation into the former Arsenal and Real Madrid star's actions was expected to conclude next week, responded angrily to Anelka's announcement.
It said it was "unprofessional" and said it had received no formal notice of the termination of his contract.
A few hours later, the club issued another statement saying Anelka's behaviour constituted gross misconduct and as such it was terminating his contract.
"Nicolas Anelka's purported termination of his Premier League contract this evening via social media was invalid as this was not conducted under the correct legal process as required by his contract," the club said.
"The club considers the conduct of Nicolas Anelka on December 28, coupled with his purported termination on social media this evening, to be gross conduct.
"As a result the club has tonight written to Nicolas Anelka giving him 14 days notice of termination as required under his contract." Albion had already lost one sponsor as a result of the row and the club had not ruled out sacking Anelka for his quenelle gesture.
On Thursday, the Football Association (FA) decided against appealing the length of Anelka's ban, issued by an independent commission for his actions.
Anelka, who has spent 12 years of his career in the Premier League with six clubs, is understood to have also accepted the ruling, which meant his suspension would have started with West Brom's match at Swansea on Saturday.
The FA were considering an appeal to obtain an increase to the ban, which was the minimum that could be handed out based on the governing body's new rules overseeing offences of a racist nature.
Anelka's acrimonious exit from Albion has come to light just a day after the club and the FA were criticised by the equality group Kick It Out.
"There are many ambiguities that are not easily reconcilable with the final outcome," the Kick It Out statement read.
"For instance, Anelka has attended one of Dieudonne's live performances and admits to being a friend of his, and to claim that he does not understand the anti-Semitic connotations of the quenelle is beyond feasibility.
"His employer West Bromwich Albion should have exercised its leadership as a community institution to apologise for the offence caused and deal with the matter in accordance with its disciplinary procedures." Following the incident, Anelka started all four of Albion's Premier League games in January. But he has not featured since and was due to miss relegation-threatened Albion's matches against Swansea, Hull, Norwich, Cardiff and Tottenham.