Melbourne Victory have announced interim coach Jim Magilton has elected to return to Northern Ireland, ending his tenure at the club after 12 games.
Speculation had surfaced on Sunday that Magilton, who had been strongly tipped to stay at the club, had had a three-year deal retracted by Victory, after the club decided to widen their candidate field.
In a statement later in the day, Victory revealed Magilton had been advised he was on the shortlist of coaches to be considered for the role, but the 42-year-old had instead informed the club he would return back to the United Kingdom.
Victory's release said the appointment process was "underway", but Brisbane Roar coach Ange Postecoglou - successful in a four-stint with South Melbourne earlier in his career - has been strongly linked to the Victory post.
Postecoglou's major semi-final opponent Graham Arnold has yet to be re-signed by the Central Coast Mariners next season, and could be another Victory target.
Magilton joined Victory in January after the sacking of Mehmet Durakovic, charged with leading his side to the A-League finals. But while he made a positive impression on both his players and the media, his 12-match stint included just two wins as Victory failed to achieve a top-six place.
"Jim arrived at the shortest of notice, on a leap of faith, stepping into a role that he had limited background on," Victory managing director Richard Wilson said in the statement.
"We realise that we didn't ultimately reach the finals this season, which was our goal, but we also believe Jim was unlucky not to have finished with a better record, given we conceded goals in the dying stages of games against Sydney and Gold Coast.
"He was a total professional throughout the three months he was here. His preparation week-to-week was exceptional, his team selection saw the integration of several youngsters and was always in the best interests of the club.
"He also re-shaped a number of processes in the football department with the support of his assistant Chris O'Loughlin, who he brought with him, which will hold us in very good stead as we take our next steps forward.
"In summary, he left no stone unturned, tackled every issue head-on and he will only be remembered in a positive way from everyone involved in Melbourne Victory. We certainly wish Jim and Chris well in their future coaching endeavours."
Included in the release was a short statement from Magilton, saying he was grateful for the opportunity at Victory.
"On behalf of Chris and myself, I'd like to thank everyone at Melbourne Victory for the opportunity that was presented to us," he said.
"We have thoroughly enjoyed the experience and wish the club every success in the future."