Coach Mark Rudan has announced that he will part company with Wellington Phoenix at the end of the Hyundai A-League 2018/19 season.
The decision brings to an end weeks of speculation around the future of one of the game's brightest young coaches.
Appointed in May 2018, the 43-year-old Rudan has overseen a highly promising season for the New Zealand club which has seen him guide his charges into the Finals Series, scoring the league's third-highest total of goals in the process (43), behind Melbourne Victory (49) and Premiers Plate winners Perth Glory (51).
Among the highlights was a run of three successive victories in March that saw the 'Nix score 15 goals and concede just four.
“This has been one of the most difficult decisions I’ve had to make in my career," the former Sydney FC and Australia U23 defender said. "I came here wanting a project I could sink my teeth into and really make a difference to our sport.
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“I’ve said it before, this football club is special. There are wonderful people here that make this club what it is. The people of Wellington and New Zealand have truly embraced me. I thank all the supporters, corporate partners and the entire football club for having such great belief in me.
“But as I’ve made mention previously, family is of utmost importance to me. I am a husband and a father first, and a football coach second.
“The past few weeks I have worked closely with the club trying to find a solution but ultimately it was something that could not be resolved.
“The reasoning behind making the announcement now is to put a stop to all the speculation out there and to completely focus on Finals football.
“This football club gave me my first opportunity as a head coach in the A-League and for that I will always be grateful.”
Starting the search for Rudan's replacement
Wellington Phoenix Chairman Rob Morrison acknowledged the contribution Rudan has made to the football club.
"Mark has made a significant contribution to the club and it’s important for everyone at the club that we continue the progression he started this year.
One of the club’s values is ’the crest on the front is more important than the name on the back'. Mark has driven that philosophy through this team.
"Together we have tried very hard to find a solution that would enable him to stay, but considering all factors, it hasn’t been possible, so Mark’s decision is one as a club we respect.
"But we move on and will begin the process of the recruitment of a new coach for next season.
"I would like to thank Mark for everything he has done in his tenure, and on behalf of the club, supporters and partners wish him all the very best for the future."
Wellington Phoenix face Melbourne City at Westpac Stadium on Sunday, for what will be Rudan’s final home game of the regular season (kick-off 5.00pm AEST).