Lee Johnson has been sacked as head coach of Bristol City.
The 39-year-old, who had been in the role since February 2016 and was the longest-serving manager in the Championship, departs following a run of four successive defeats.
The Robins are 12th after Saturday’s loss to sixth-placed Cardiff City, who are now nine points above them.
Chief executive Mark Ashton said, while there had been some “special moments” under Johnson, “change” was needed.
“We recognise the huge amount of work that Lee has put in over the last four and a half years to move this club forward and we thank him for all his efforts,” added Ashton.
“However, success in football is ultimately judged by results and league position and the board believes that a change of management is needed now for Bristol City.”
Prior to this campaign, City had improved their league position in each season under Johnson, finishing eighth in 2018-19 having gone into the final day with an outside chance of reaching the play-offs.
They looked well set to challenge again this term and were three points off the top two after beating Derby County on 12 February, but a nine-game winless run – including seven defeats – either side of the coronavirus hiatus means they are now set for a mid-table finish.
Assistant head coach Dean Holden will take over in a caretaker capacity while the club searches for Johnson’s successor.
Highs & lows under Johnson
Johnson, son of former Bristol City boss Gary, played for the Robins from 2006 to 2012, appearing in the 2008 Championship play-off final when they lost to Hull City.
Although they have failed to reach those heights again with him as head coach, he famously guided them to the Carabao Cup semi-finals in 2017-18, beating Manchester United in the last eight before eventually being edged out over two legs by Manchester City.
While he has overseen steady improvement throughout his reign, he also became known for leading his side on long winning and losing runs, prompting the tag ‘streaky Johnson’.
During his first full season he set a new club record of eight successive league defeats, and then guided them to nine wins in a row in 2018-19.
His latest winless run now leaves the club searching for only their third manager since 2013.
‘There’s no excuses’ – Johnson’s final BBC interview
Speaking to BBC Radio Bristol following the defeat by local rivals Cardiff – but before his sacking was announced – Johnson said he had “no excuses” for the recent run of losses.
“We’ve got a good squad here, some good players, but for whatever reason after the Covid-19 break we just haven’t blended or gelled as we actually thought we would,” he said.
“Obviously we have not been good enough over the course of the season, it’s not just today and all we can do is set the tone moving forward.
“It’s disappointing but no one is more disappointed than me.”