The Italian leaves the Foxes just nine months after he led them to a shock title victory

English Premier League champions Leicester City have parted company with manager Claudio Ranieri just 298 days after the Italian had led the club to a highly unlikely title.

The Italian led Leicester to a first top-flight title in the club’s history in 2015-16, despite the club narrowly avoiding the drop the previous campaign and starting the season as 5000-1 outsiders. The title win was generally considered the biggest shock in the competition’s history.

The decision comes after the Foxes lost their Champions League last-16 first leg tie away to Sevilla 2-1, and with the club sitting in 17th place in the domestic championship, just one point above the relegation zone.

“His [Ranieri’s] status as the most successful Leicester City manager of all time is without question”, a club statement read.

“However, domestic results in the current campaign have placed the Club’s Premier League status under threat and the Board reluctantly feels that a change of leadership, while admittedly painful, is necessary in the Club’s greatest interest.”

Ranieri won 28 of his 63 Premier League games in charge of the club, drawing a further 18 and losing 17. 14 of those defeats have come in the current campaign.

Ranieri’s side has failed to reach the highs of last season’s domestic performances, but have been praised for their debut appearance in the Champions League. The team lost only one group fixture, having already secured top spot in Group G.

“It was never our expectation that the extraordinary feats of last season should be replicated this season” – Aiyawatt Srivaddhanaprabha

Despite the defeat to high-flying Sevilla, Ranieri’s team had gained the praise of pundits for what was considered a positive performance and result. The manager was dismissed less than 24-hours later.

But it was English Premier League struggles which ultimately prompted Ranieri’s sacking, with reports suggesting the club’s players had expressed concerns to the owners about their manager’s ability to prevent them being relegated. Two weeks ago the club’s board had declared their “unwavering support” for Ranieri.

“This has been the most difficult decision we have had to make in nearly seven years ownership of Leicester City”, said Vice-Chairperson Aiyawatt Srivaddhanaprabha.

“But we are duty-bound to put the Club’s long-term interests above all sense of personal sentiment, no matter how strong that might be.

“It was never our expectation that the extraordinary feats of last season should be replicated this season. Indeed, survival in the Premier League was our first and only target”, Srivaddhanaprabha added.

“But we are now faced with a fight to reach that objective and feel a change is necessary.”

“to sack him now is inexplicable, unforgivable and gut-wrenchingly sad” – gary lineker

Srivaddhanaprabha praised Ranieri’s tenure at the club, saying, “His skilful management, powers of motivation and measured approach have been reflective of the rich experience we always knew he would bring.

“His warmth, charm and charisma helped transform perceptions of the Club and develop its profile on a global scale.

“We will forever be grateful to him.”

Former Leicester hero turned pundit Gary Lineker expressed his feelings on social media, commenting, “After all that Claudio Ranieri has done for Leicester City, to sack him now is inexplicable, unforgivable and gut-wrenchingly sad.”

Alan Smith, another former Leicester striker now working as a pundit, was critical of the players’ actions, saying, “Those Leicester players were feted as legends. Have they tarnished that status by turning on the manager?”

Assistant manager Craig Shakespeare and First-Team Coach Mike Stowell will take temporary charge of the team. Former Leicester striker Roberto Mancini, who won the Premier League title with Manchester City in 2012, was the early front-runner to replace his compatriot but has ruled himself out of contention.

In a statement, Ranieri claimed his “dream died” as he was relieved of his duties.

“All I dreamt of was staying with Leicester City, the club I love, for always,” the former Chelsea manager added.

“Sadly this was not to be.

“The adventure was amazing and will live with me forever.”

Alistair Sargent, Correspondent (Sport)

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