Newcastle Jets executive chairman Shane Mattiske confirmed the search for a new A-League head coach was already underway on what he described as a "difficult day for the club".
Mattiske didn't unveil a shortlist of candidates but told the Newcastle Herald that officials would look to make an appointment as "quickly" as possible after current mentor Craig Deans revealed on Thursday he would step down at the end of this season.
The change comes just four months after Mattiske announced former assistant Deans would be promoted from an interim role to Newcastle's top job for the rest of 2020-21 and next season.
But having reached a ladder-high position of sixth after the opening nine rounds, the now last-placed Jets endured a 14-match winless run spanning almost 100 days which was only snapped earlier this week.
"It's a difficult day for the club and all supporters of the team because they know how much Craig cares for team, they know how much effort he's put into the team and they know he's a great person and a selfless person," Mattiske said.
"As you move through week-to-week in a competition we're constantly talking about where we sit, how we're performing, how things are going, responsibilities. All the things surrounding football.
"Craig's a mature coach and a mature person and I think that's what's driven the decision he's announced today."
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Mattiske and Deans both alluded to recent conversations between the pair.
The exact timeline is unclear, but the Jets have kick started the process of looking for a replacement.
"We've had some time to think about that now. Craig revealed his view today, but that's something I've had an understanding of for some time," Mattiske said.
"We've been able to move forward and we've got an understanding of the possibilities in the market and we're moving to advance those as quickly as we can to get to a point where we can announce a head coach."
Former Jets assistant Arthur Papas was linked to the coaching job in reports on Thursday, but Mattiske wouldn't be drawn on any names.
"We have a view on the right sort of coach for the club," he said.
"We certainly want to bring in a coach who aligns with our football philosophy, aligns with expectations on how we should play and is a good fit for the club and for the community.
"Of course we're seeking someone we can build a team around and focus on moving forward so it won't be a short-term decision."
Mattiske remained confident Deans' exit and another coaching change at the Jets wouldn't impact any potential ownership bids in the future despite Newcastle still being run by an Australian Professional Leagues consortium.
"The focus remains on building a strong club," Mattiske said.
"At a point in the future, once we've built strength on the field and built strength off the field, transition around ownership will come but it will take time to get to that point so it's not something that's a current focus."
A new role has yet to be finalised for Deans, but Mattiske said he would like to continue drawing on his "character", "knowledge" and "expertise".
He also welcomed the chance for Newcastle to finish this campaign on a strong note and avoid the wooden spoon, buoyed by a 2-0 triumph over the Mariners on the Central Coast on Tuesday.
The Jets (17 points) host Perth at McDonald Jones Stadium on Saturday before catching up a postponed fixture with premiers Melbourne City, likely late next week, in a bid to jump closest rivals Melbourne Victory (18) on the ladder.
"I know the whole team and Craig are focused on doing the best they possibly can so we can walk away from Saturday and from the game against City with three points and demonstrate what we're building at this club," he said.
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