Aston Villa have parted company with manager David O'Leary.
His departure follows a period of apparent unrest at Villa Park and means the club must now search for a new boss as pre-season training continues.
O'Leary had been at Villa since June 2003 and they finished sixth in his first Premiership campaign, however a 10th-placed campaign in 2004-05 and 16th in 2005-06 demonstrated a steady decline in playing fortunes.
Chairman Doug Ellis has been criticised by supporters who claim he has not invested adequately in the playing staff, and a statement released last Friday, supposedly from the first-team squad, also questioned the club owner's input.
A finger of suspicion was aimed by some in the direction of 48-year-old Irishman O'Leary, with questions raised as to whether he was involved in what seemingly transpired with the statement at the training ground last week.
A three-man inquiry panel was set up to discover the truth behind the statement and O'Leary held talks with Villa officials this evening.
The club released a statement tonight which cleared O'Leary of any involvement, but stated that Villa had decided the time was right for a change of management.
The statement read: 'On 17 July 2006, Aston Villa Plc announced that the board of Aston Villa had set up an internal enquiry into the circumstances surrounding the publication of a statement purportedly from the entire first team squad.
'That enquiry has completed its investigations. Although no misconduct by the manager, David O'Leary was uncovered, as a result of the investigation, it has been agreed that an amicable parting of the ways was in the best interests of all parties.
'Accordingly, a compensation package reflecting the situation has been established and it has been mutually agreed to terminate the contract of David O'Leary, with immediate effect.'