Davie Kirkwood has resigned as manager of Highland League champions Brora Rangers less than two weeks before the start of the new season.
The former Rangers, Hearts, Raith Rovers and East Fife midfielder has cited business commitments for his decision.
Kirkwood, pictured, is the second Highland League close-season managerial casualty, following Fort William’s Calum MacLean who stepped down due to family and business reasons.
The Brora board met last night to discuss their next move, but with a home North Cup tie against local rivals Wick Academy next Wednesday and a Dudgeon Park Petrofac Training Cup cup tie against Alloa Athletic three days later, it seems likely assistant-manager, former Caley Thistle and Ross County full back, Stuart Golabek, will be put in charge.
Kirkwood said: “I have bought into a taxi company on the Black Isle.
“We are now starting to get contracts from the cruise liners which come into Invergordon. We wanted to build the business slowly, but it has snowballed and I need to make myself available all the time.
“It is difficult to juggle, even last season I loved to go and watch other teams, I wasn’t working at the time, I just had the football, but now I’m in a position when I can’t do any of that. This new venture will take a lot of my time and attention.
“I have been involved with professional football since I joined East Fife in 1983, one day I will go back into football, but at this moment I need to concentrate on building the new business and something had to give.
“It is the same situation Richie Brittain found himself in when he signed for Brora after his release by Ross County. He is looking out for his family and his long-term future and I am doing the same thing, but the business I am in has an adverse effect on the football.
“I have left Brora in good shape, whoever comes in can take them to the next level, League 2, but it won’t be easy as the likes of Formartine United and Cove Rangers have both strengthened.”
The news has come as a shock to the club.
Brora director, former Highland League president, David Dowling, said: “This really is a bolt from the blue.
“But I respect Davie for letting us know of his decision before the start of the new season.
“It would have been even worse in a fortnight’s time when we have started playing, at least we have time to catch our breath before a ball is kicked.
“He told us he agonised over the decision, and I believe that to be true. There is never a good time for something like this to happen, but from the club’s point of view, rather now than a month down the line.
“Time is short so I don’t think it would be an unreasonable assumption that Stuart Golabek may be in temporary charge, but we have players that have played in the SPL and we are not short of leaders.
“We’re not panicking, and definitely won’t be rushing into anything.”