West Brom have announced the dismissal of head coach Darren Moore just hours after a 1-1 draw against Championship bottom club Ipswich.
The result dealt a further blow to the Baggies' faltering promotion hopes and prompted what the club said was an "enormously difficult" decision.
Despite sitting in fourth place, a run of just four wins in their last 12 games has seen the Baggies cast adrift in the battle for automatic promotion.
Chief executive Mark Jenkins told the club's official website: "This has been an enormously difficult decision for a club which will always hold Darren in such high regard.
"He took over at a very difficult time last season and reunited the club, a contribution that will never be forgotten.
"We have made it clear from the outset that everything this season was geared to making as swift a return to the Premier League as possible.
"Unfortunately Darren has not been able to engineer the consistency of form and results to convince the board that this objective would be met."
Press Association Sport understands Moore was sacked in the boardroom by Jenkins and technical director Luke Dowling over an hour after the game.
Moore's assistants Graeme Jones and Wayne Jacobs have also left the club while first team coach James Shan has been put in temporary charge of team affairs.
The club have indicated that they intend to identify a replacement for Moore as soon as possible, with former Fulham boss Slavisa Jokanovic linked with the post.
Former Albion defender Moore was a popular replacement for Alan Pardew in April last year and was widely praised for the way in which he went about his first job in management.
But after initially looking strong contenders for a return to the top-flight, the Baggies' form ebbed and they suffered costly back-to-back defeats to rivals Sheffield United and Leeds.
The failure to beat rock-bottom Ipswich would deal Moore's Baggies role the fatal blow, extending their winless league run at The Hawthorns back to Boxing Day.
Moore, who made over 100 playing appearances for the club between 2001 and 2006, had given no indication of his impending departure at his post-match press conference.
Moore said: "Nobody is going to give West Bromwich Albion the right to win. We have to go and earn it and find it. So we will continue trying to work towards that."
Big names including Gary Lineker and Ian Wright were among those to express surprise at the decision.
Lineker tweeted: "What???? Darren Moore sacked? You're 4th."