London - Steve McClaren has been sacked as manager of English Premier League strugglers Newcastle United with "immediate effect", the north-east club announced Friday.
Newcastle are second-bottom in the table and facing relegation despite spending some $41 million on new players during the January transfer window in a bid to avoid the drop.
Former England manager McClaren's position at St James' Park had been the subject of intense speculation for several days following Newcastle's 3-1 loss at home to Bournemouth on Saturday.
The club apologised to McClaren for the ensuing uncertainty over his position after the Bournemouth reverse but they said now was the time to end his nine months in charge, with Newcastle having won just six of their 28 league games so far this season and only Aston Villa below them in the table.
"After the defeat to Bournemouth on Saturday the club has spent some time considering its position and has today concluded that Steve McClaren's employment with the club will end with immediate effect," Newcastle's statement said.
"We acknowledge that reaching this decision has taken a number of days and that this has caused uncertainty for everyone involved, in particular for Steve and the players, for which we apologise.
"However we felt that this time was necessary to ensure the right decisions were reached with the best interests of the club at heart."
Former Liverpool and Real Madrid boss Rafael Benitez has been touted as a possible successor to McClaren, but Newcastle's statement said: "A further announcement on a successor to Steve will be made in due course."
Reports in the British media suggested Newcastle managing director Lee Charnley was due to hold talks with Spaniard Benitez later on Friday.
Whoever takes over will have just 10 games left to
keep Newcastle in the Premier League this season, starting with a
daunting trip away to leaders Leicester City on Monday.