Raith Rovers chairman Alan Young revealed that Saturday’s 4-0 home loss to Livingston was the final straw that led to the sacking of manager Grant Murray.
The Raith boss was summoned to a board meeting on Monday and told his fate following the team’s fifth straight defeat in the final home match of the season.
If we have entertainment out on the pitch, then people will come to watch it, so that’s the crucial thing.
Mr Young admitted that the board had become concerned not only by recent results, but also performances, and that the time had come to part company with the 39-year-old.
“I’ve said before that the performances and results are crucial as far as the club is concerned, and it certainly dipped off over the last four or five games,” Young told the Press.
“The performance on Saturday was just awful. As a club we’ve got to try to move forward, and this decision was what we considered to be the best way to move forward.”
Murray’s job had previously come under pressure before Christmas following a poor run, but Young stressed that the decision was taken based on the most recent downturn.
“There was certainly concern earlier on, but that corner was turned and there was a good spell in January and most of February, which was good to see,” he said. “But at a club like ours, you’ve got to see everybody working hard and working for each other. It’s enthusiasm and being positive on the pitch and that certainly wasn’t evident on Saturday.”
A slow uptake of early bird season ticket sales may also have been a factor with a number of supporters informing the club that they would not renew under Murray.
“The supporters are the lifeblood of this club and you’ve got to consider them,” Young explained.
“If we have entertainment out on the pitch, then people will come to watch it, so that’s the crucial thing.
“We sold season tickets last Wednesday and on Saturday and there was some uptake.
“In fact, after the game on Saturday there was a queue of people at the office, and I felt they were so dedicated I had to shake each individual’s hand because that was certainly above and beyond.
“If that dedication had been shown on the pitch on Saturday afternoon then we would have had a better result and performance.”
While critical of recent displays under Murray, the chairman was keen to point to the departing manager’s accomplishments over three years in charge.
“The Ramsdens Cup obviously was the big one - and from my personal point of view the win at Ibrox in the Scottish Cup this year was a wonderful experience,” Young added.
“I’ve heaps of positives things to say about Grant - it’s just a pity it hasn’t worked out.
“Grant has done a lot of things for this club, and I would like to think that this is the first step in a good career for Grant - there’s no reason why it shouldn’t be.”
Attention now turns to appointing Murray’s successor, and Young stressed that the club will take its time over the next few weeks before coming to a decision.
“We’ve certainly had a batch of applications in, and some very interesting ones,” he said.
“We’ll take our time over the next three or four days, see what applications come in, see who is there, and who would like to become manager at Raith Rovers, and then take that forward.
“We need to get something moving to get someone in place where pre-season is concerned.
“But I think we can just take a breath at the moment, and have a look at who’s available, see who applies, and what the situation is. It’s important we get this decision right.”
Young refused to completely rule out Maurice Malpas for the vacancy but hinted that the club’s director of football is unlikely to put himself forward for the post.
“One of the points Maurice made when he came in to help us was that he wasn’t here to take over the manager’s job - that criteria applies,” Young explained.
He did add, however, that Malpas will be advising the board on its appointment.
The situation regarding Murray’s assistant, Laurie Ellis, remains unclear with the long-serving 35-year-old set to take the team for the final game of the season in Saturday’s lunchtime kick-off in Dumbarton.
“All thanks to Laurie for agreeing to take training this week, organise the team, and take the team for Saturday,” Young added.
“I asked him as a favour if he would do that, and without any hesitation he indicated that he would despite being very upset at the situation.
“Full marks to Laurie as far as that’s concerned - it just shows the way the man is.
“He’s certainly stepped into a difficult position this week, and it would be good for him and for Grant if he could get a win on Saturday.”
Rovers will not be short of applicants for the vacant manager’s job.
A number of names have already been linked with the post, with Derek Adams the current bookies favourite after touting himself for the job in a TV interview on Tuesday.
The former Ross County manager has been spotted at Stark’s Park in recent weeks.
There are also short odds on former Kilmarnock manager Alan Johnston, ex-Falkirk and Coventry boss Steven Pressley, and current Dumbarton gaffer Ian Murray.
Legendary former players Danny Lennon, recently appointed at Alloa, and Colin Cameron, currently at Berwick, also make the bookies shortlist, as does Terry Butcher, who has a connection through Maurice Malpas.
The Press understands that former Scotland U21 manager Billy Stark is also interested.
Raith do not have a ready made replacement in mind so will be sifting through the flood of applications received from all over Europe. Raith are keen to take their time, but want a new man in place before players’ contracts expire at the end of May.