With Newcastle on the verge of finishing out of the A-League finals for a fourth straight season, Jets boss Robbie Middleby admits the club was left with no choice but to sack coach Gary van Egmond.
Speculation about van Egmond's future had been mounting with the Jets confirming on Monday they had mutually agreed to terminate his contract with immediate effect.
Van Egmond's contract was due to expire at the end of the season but the team's poor recent form prompted the club to act sooner with the Jets' 3-1 loss to bottom-placed Heart on Friday night seen as the final straw.
Current Jets youth league coach and former Socceroo striker Clayton Zane was appointed as interim head coach until the conclusion of the season.
"After not qualifying for the A-League finals series for the last three years, this is a vitally important season for the club and both parties, the club and Gary, agree the team requires a new voice and direction to take us forward," Jets CEO Middleby said.
Newcastle remain in finals contention just a point outside the top six, but have been on the slide for several weeks.
The Jets have won just one of their past six games and have only one competition point to show from their past four encounters.
This decision ends van Egmond's second stint at the club having led them to the championship with a grand-final win over Central Coast in the 2007/08 season, his first campaign in charge.
After quitting the club in 2009 to take up a coaching appointment at the Australian Institute of Sport (AIS), van Egmond returned just prior to the start of the 2011/12 season after the Jets sacked then coach Branko Culina.
But Newcastle have failed to secure a finals berth since, their last play-off appearance coming in the 2009/10 campaign.
Craig Deans will remain as an assistant coach while also taking on the role of youth league coach for the remainder of the season.
Zane, a 14-time Socceroo, initially served as head coach of the Jets W-League team and has been in charge of Newcastle's youth league side for the past two seasons.
"In Clayton, we have an ex-Socceroo who has played at a high level in Europe and is a talented young coach," Middleby said.
"We have confidence that Clayton will bring a new perspective to take the team forward this year and battle for finals qualification."
This may not be the end of van Egmond's involvement with the club however, with Middleby encouraging him to apply for a technical director role as part of the Emerging Jets Program.
"Enhancing the quality of coaching provided to elite young players in this program is paramount and this is why the club is recommending that Gary applies and is strongly considered for this position," Middleby said.
The Jets will commence their search for a fulltime replacement for van Egmond in the coming weeks with former Sydney FC defender and now football pundit Mark Rudan being touted as an option.
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