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1 August 2017, 11:13
Hearts have sacked head coach Ian Cathro four days before the start of the Ladbrokes Premiership season.
The Edinburgh club acted swiftly following their failure to reach the Betfred Cup second round after finishing behind Dunfermline and Peterhead in their group.
A statement on the club's official website read: "Craig Levein, Hearts' director of football, has confirmed that head coach Ian Cathro will leave the club with immediate effect.
"The board wishes it to be known that this was a very difficult decision, reluctantly made, as every member of the board recognises that Ian is an extremely talented young coach with a very bright future ahead of him.''
Cathro's appointment on December 5 last year was viewed as innovative but risky and Hearts decided to cut their losses after an unrelenting run of poor results.
Cathro had impressed then Dundee United boss Levein with his youth coaching in his early 20s and was given the job of leading the Tannadice academy. He later held assistant coaching roles at Portuguese side Rio Ave, Valencia and Newcastle, from where he moved to Tynecastle.
Hearts were three points above Aberdeen in third when Cathro took over following the departure of Robbie Neilson to MK Dons but finished 30 points behind the Pittodrie club in fifth and failed to qualify for Europe.
The 31-year-old won just six of his 26 matches in charge last season and a William Hill Scottish Cup defeat by Hibernian piled on the pressure.
The club hoped a transfer window and pre-season would transform the situation after six of their eight winter signings departed at the end of the season, and the arrival of the likes of Christophe Berra and Kyle Lafferty rekindled optimism.
But a defeat at Peterhead and home draw with Dunfermline ensured Hearts were the only Premiership team missing from the Betfred Cup second-round draw and fans reacted angrily after the Pars won a penalty shoot-out on Saturday.
Hearts begin their league campaign with four consecutive away games against Celtic, Kilmarnock, Rangers and Motherwell while their new main stand is completed and the pressure was only likely to build further.
The club promised a further statement on Wednesday in relation to their management plans for Saturday's trip to Celtic Park "and longer term''.
Another young coach, Northern Ireland assistant manager Austin MacPhee, joined Hearts at the same time as Cathro, while former Rangers and Dundee United forward Jon Daly, the club's under-20s coach, was in caretaker charge for one match in between Neilson's departure and Cathro's arrival.