Hull sack manager Phil Brown

Hull today relieved manager Phil Brown of his duties and placed him on gardening leave with immediate effect, the Barclays Premier League club have confirmed.

Hull lost 2-1 at home to Arsenal on Saturday with Nicklas Bendtner scoring a last-gasp winner.

The defeat left the Tigers second bottom of the standings, three points from safety.

A statement on the club's official website said Brian Horton and Steve Parkin would take charge of the first team until further notice.

The statement from chairman Adam Pearson revealed the Hull board felt it had to act in a bid to keep the club in the top flight.

The statement read: "Retention of Premier League status is paramount and the board believes that a change in managerial direction is the correct option at this time.

"The club will complete supporters up-to-date in respect of any managerial appointment but, in the meantime, Brian Horton and Steve Parkin will prepare the team for our important game at Portsmouth next Saturday."

Brown led the Tigers to promotion to the Premier League for the first time in the club's history through the play-offs in 2008.

They enjoyed a fantastic start to the 2008/09 season, but a poor run of results after Christmas meant it was not until the final day of the campaign that they ensured survival.

The current season has proved just as tough for the East Yorkshire outfit, who have lost their last four games.

The statement added: "We would like to place on record our sincere thanks to Phil for the major success achieved during a period of four seasons in charge at the club and wish him every success for the future.

"Promotion to the Premier League in 2008 and retention of our status on the last day of the 2009 season are unique events in the history of Hull City AFC and both were achieved under Phil's stewardship during a period which will never be forgotten by all connected with the club."

Brown apologised to the Women's Institute on Friday after 50-100 women about to march across the Humber Bridge witnessed an altercation between Jimmy Bullard and Nicky Barmby.

Brown took over as manager of Hull in January 2007, succeeding Phil Parkinson, and kept them in the Coca-Cola Championship that season. They finished one place and seven points above the bottom three.

The following season he led them to promotion as Dean Windass' goal earned them a 1-0 win over Bristol City in the play-off final at Wembley.

Former Hull striker Dean Windass told Sky Sports News: "I feel very sorry for Phil. He's the most successful manager Hull have ever had.

"He was a great manager for me and a good coach as well. It's a sad day for Phil.

"He's done a fantastic job in the time he's been there. To take us (into the top flight) after 104 years was a great journey for us. All good things come to an end but he was a good friend and always will be."

Former chairman Paul Duffen believes the club are likely to already have Brown's successor "pencilled in".

"It's a sad, sad day in many ways but the stuff that Phil achieved at Hull City will always live in the record books, so many firsts," Duffen said.

"He's been resilient and consistent and done a fantastic job at the football club.

"These things rarely happen as knee-jerk decisions. Some of the bookies slashed the odds last week for Phil to be sacked and I'm sure there will have been conversations and movements going on in the background long before today.

"On the face of it you could say it's surprising with nine games to go when it's hard to make any real difference in terms of playing squad obviously, no windows available to change a side.

"It's probably a reflection of the fact that some of those unpleasant statistics, in terms of the time it's been since Hull won away and the building pressure coming into the run-in, has taken its toll maybe in terms of relationships between the training ground and boardroom.

"I would be surprised if there isn't a new manager already pencilled in. Brian and Steve are very capable but it still is disruptive not to have a permanent manager in place."