Western Sydney Wanderers coach Tony Popovic has quit the club on the eve of their A-League season after reaching an agreement to coach Turkish club Karabukspor.
Just one week before the A-League season starts, the Wanderers will begin the search for a new coach for the first time in five years, after Popovic abruptly left the club on Sunday.
He will immediately travel to Istanbul to finalise a transfer to the Super Lig club after reaching an agreement on personal terms and will complete formalities once he arrives in Turkey.
The timing of Popovic's departure has left the club's preparations for the new season in tatters. It follows an off-season in which the Western Sydney board approved unprecedented spending on player signings and salaries, as Popovic moulded a squad to his requirements, in hopes of finally winning the A-League title.
Chief executive John Tsatsimas admits the club faces a major headache to ensure that the spending will still count for something as they frantically search for a replacement for Popovic.
"I've had better Sunday mornings," he said, before suggesting that the recruitment process could be a lengthy one. "We'll take our time to make the right appointment."
For Popovic, it was an opportunity that proved too good to refuse. A chance to coach in one of Europe's stronger leagues, at a club where he has been assured of having full control and the freedom to sign his own support staff, was one he couldn't refuse - even if it came at the cost of derailing the Wanderers' plans for the season.
"There's no great timing. It isn't great timing, we've spent 14-15 weeks of pre-season preparing a team that can challenge for the title - which I'm sure they will," he said. "But this has just come up last night and this morning, this is not something you can plan for.
“There's been a change of management overseas and I've been given the opportunity to take on that role. It's certainly not planned and I certainly understand the timing."
Karabukspor finished 12th in the Super Lig last season but they are currently battling against relegation.