Premier League outfit Sunderland have sacked manager Mick McCarthy after three years in charge.
The club lie at the foot of the league and are 16 points adrift of safety with only ten games remaining.
Sunderland will appoint a caretaker manager for the remainder of this season.
Chairman Bob Murray said: “I would like to thank Mick McCarthy for his efforts for the club whilst at Sunderland.
“We wish him and his family the best for the future.”
He said as chairman he took “responsibility for what has proven to be an unsuccessful and heartbreaking season, despite the best intentions, efforts and expectations of every one at the club.
“I feel deeply sorry that the excitement, optimism and aspirations of all Sunderland fans looking forward to a return to the Premier League have been rewarded in this way and I apologise for this.
“It is especially tough on supporters who have turned out in numbers week in, week out, despite seeing so little to raise their spirits.
“It is hard to see such loyalty unrewarded and I am sorry that performances and results have not mirrored the tremendous level of support that the club has been given.
“The club did not return to the Premiership just to make up the numbers and whilst we fully expected it to be a tough first season back, none of us expected to be in the position we are today.
“Looking ahead we will be taking our time to appoint a successor for what will be another very important season for the club in 2006.”
McCarthy took over on 12 March 2003 and was powerless to prevent the club from relegation to the Championship.
The former Republic of Ireland boss led the club to third in the Championship, before losing to Crystal Palace in the play-offs.
The following season McCarthy led the club to the Championship title.
But this campaign has seen the club only winning two games out of 28 games.
Subscribe to World Soccer – The essential football magazine