Roy Keane has resigned his post as Sunderland manager, after 100 games in charge, in the wake of his side's dismal run in the Premier League.
The Mackems have won just four league matches this season, and lost their last four at home at the Stadium of Light.
The north-east side careered into the relegation placings after suffering a 4-1 hammering against Bolton Wanderers over the weekend.
There had been considerable confusion over Keane's position at the club in recent weeks, with a new contract reportedly remaining unsigned despite the terms of his current deal expiring next summer.
The club appointed a new chief executive yesterday in the shape of Steve Walton, who was brought on board to aid with transfer dealings.
It appears that Keane has taken it upon himself to prematurely end his term at the helm of Sunderland, just days before his expected return to Old Trafford to face Manchester United.
A statement on the official Sunderland website reads:
After 2 ¼ years at the helm Roy Keane has parted company with Sunderland AFC after both parties reached an amicable agreement.
Keane who decided the time had come to stand down took over Sunderland in August 2006 when the team were languishing at the bottom of the Championship. He steered the Black Cats to promotion to the Premier League at the first attempt and maintained Premier League status in 2008.
Sunderland Chairman Niall Quinn said: “First of all on behalf of everyone here I would like pay thanks to Roy Keane for all his hard work in progressing this Club, lifting its status and growing its worldwide profile.
“Roy deserves huge respect for his contribution and the manner in which he guided the Club from the depths of The Championship back to the Premier League. His winning mentality and singled mindedness were just what this Club needed when Drumaville took over shortly before his arrival.
“Roy’s decision to stand aside and allow someone else to take charge of the next chapter sums up his desire to always do what is best for the Club. Even in his departure he has been more concerned for the welfare of the players and his staff than himself.
“The Board has reluctantly accepted his decision and wish him and his family well for the future.“
Sam Allardyce is the early front-runner with bookmakers to take over the vacant role.
--Peter Staunton, Goal.com