Carlton have confirmed Brett Ratten has been sacked as coach. And the Blues are set to target Mick Malthouse to fill the vacancy.
Ratten will vacate the position after the clash with St Kilda in this weekend's last home-and-away round. He still had a year to go on his contract.
President Stephen Kernahan announced the decision, alongside Ratten, at club headquarters this morning. The decision to dismiss the coach was made yesterday.
The decision followed the Blues' humiliating loss to Gold Coast last Saturday which ended the club's chance of making the 2012 finals.
"This club has been built on success and playing finals. As a club we set some really strong goals to play finals and we didn't achieve that," Ratten said.
Ratten conceded there were "dark thoughts" in his head immediately following the loss to the Suns.
However, another AFL club could throw Ratten a lifeline.
He said he would talk to rival outfits "once the dust settles".
Former Collingwood and West Coast coach Malthouse will be favourite to return to the AFL as Ratten's replacement.
Kernahan said the club would immediately start interviews with candidates and Malthouse "would be one of them. We want an experienced senior coach".
"While acknowledging Brett’s coaching record in developing the team, the Carlton board was concerned with the inconsistency of the team’s performances and the inability to defeat top-eight and, in particular, top-four sides.
"The decision was not based on the Gold Coast Suns game last weekend, however this emphasised the problem with consistency that concerned the board. Some good wins during the season were overshadowed by inconsistent performances and bad losses, including the round 10 loss to Port Adelaide and the loss to Gold Coast.
"The club has not confirmed a replacement. However, after the discussions with Brett and advising him of the decision we are now in a position to commence discussions with a number of experienced coaches."
Ratten was determined to coach out the season.
"I started the year, I want to finish the year," Ratten said. "That is my role and I am not hiding from one thing."