John Hughes has left Ross County, despite steering the club to Scottish Premiership safety.
The former Inverness and Hibernian boss took over four days before Christmas when the club were bottom of the table and secured a 10th-placed finish with victory over Motherwell on the final day, their third win in a row.
A County statement read: “Following the conclusion of the 2020/21 season, the club has spent several days reviewing one of our most difficult campaigns in the Scottish Premiership.
“The club can today confirm that John has decided to explore further football opportunities and, with the imminent expiry of his contract, John will leave the club.
“John’s time here was a great success for John personally and Ross County Football Club.”
Talks on the 56-year-old’s future were put on hold until the end of the season, but Hughes spoke at Fir Park eight days earlier as if he was planning on staying.
Chairman Roy MacGregor last week stated that the club had needed someone with Hughes’ “infectious personality” midway through the season but added that the first person he called after the victory at Motherwell was former boss Stuart Kettlewell.
MacGregor also spoke about having in-depth talks to try to push the club into mid-table while re-examining their identity.
The club statement added: “We would like to place on the record our thanks to John for his hard work and commitment to Ross County and wish him all the very best in his future endeavours.
“As outlined by our chairman in recent interviews, the club is currently taking stock of our position and we are working extremely hard to deliver a long-term, strategic plan to support the continuing success of Ross County FC in the Scottish Premiership, and what we see as the beginning on a new era here in Dingwall.
“With this in mind, the club will now begin the process of finding our new manager.”
In a statement on the club’s official website, Hughes said: “I would like to thank the players, staff and supporters. I have enjoyed my time at Ross County.
“I was appointed with the objective of securing Premiership football and I am proud to have achieved this under the circumstances.
“I wish Roy MacGregor and Ross County every success for the future.”