WEST Bromwich Albion have this evening relieved Head Coach Steve Clarke of his duties and placed him on gardening leave with immediate effect.
This was the unanimous decision of the Football Club's Board of Directors following a disappointing performance throughout 2013.
Albion have won only seven of their 34 Barclays Premier League games during the calendar year – a 20 per cent win percentage yielding a total of only 31 points – despite a substantial investment in the first-team squad.
Joint-Assistant Head Coach Keith Downing will assume control of first-team affairs whilst the Club considers all available options for a new Head Coach.
Sporting & Technical Director Richard Garlick said: “We have reluctantly come to the decision to relieve Steve of his duties after very careful consideration.
“It has been well documented that we have not had the rub of the green in certain games this season but that does not cloud the generally disappointing points return during this calendar year, culminating in today’s fourth-successive defeat at Cardiff.
“This Club's track record proves we do not take such decisions lightly, having only enforced a change in this position three times in approximately 14 years.
“But with key games coming thick and fast, we felt it was important we acted now to give the Club the best possible chance of a successful outcome this season.
“Our player wage bill is the highest in the Club’s history and we feel we have built a squad capable of being very competitive in the Premier League.
"We now begin the search to find a new Head Coach who will work within our existing structure, which has been in place for the past six years.”
Clarke’s assistant Kevin Keen has also been placed on gardening leave.
"On behalf of the Board, I would like to thank Steve and Kevin for their efforts over the past 18 months,” added Garlick.
“We wish them and their families well for the future.”
The Board will make no further comment until a new Head Coach has been appointed.