Former Celtic defender John Hughes leaves Ross County for 'further football opportunities' after securing SPFL survival in Dingwall

John Hughes has left Ross County after saving the Staggies from relegation and preserving their Premiership status.

The former Hibs, Hartlepool and Livingston manager will now ‘explore further football opportunities’ after his five months in Dingwall – a second Highland success after he led neighbours Inverness Caledonian Thistle to the Scottish Cup six years ago.

The short-term contract was up for renewal at the end of the Premiership campaign and the 56-year-old has elected to move on.

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Hughes enters the job market with three of his former clubs seeking managers. Celtic, where he played 31 games, are still without a permanent successor to Neil Lennon while vacancies at Inverness and Falkirk – the club where he began his dug-out career – have also opened up in the past month.

Ross County Manager John Hughes during a Scottish Premiership match between Hibernian and Ross County at Easter Road, on December 30, 2020, in Edinburgh, Scotland. (Photo by Ross Parker / SNS Group)

County was his seventh club as boss and Hughes told the Staggies’ website: “I would like to thank the players, staff and supporters. I have enjoyed my time at Ross County I was appointed with the objective of securing Premiership football and I am proud to have achieved this under the circumstances. I wish Roy MacGregor and Ross County every success for the future.”

The goodwill was returned by the club in the announcement of the manager’s departure which added: “We would like to place on the record our thanks to John for his hard work and commitment to Ross County and wish him all the very best in his future endeavours.

“As outlined by our Chairman in recent interviews, the club is currently taking stock of our position and we are working extremely hard to deliver a long-term, strategic plan to support the continuing success of Ross County in the Scottish Premiership, and what we see as the beginning on a new era here in Dingwall.

“With this in mind, the club will now begin the process of finding our new manager.”

Former Hibs manager John Hughes has left Ross County. Picture: SNS

After replacing Stuart Kettlewell in the Highlands with the Dingwall club bottom of the SPFL Premiership, Hughes accrued 26 points from 21 games – enough to lift the club off the basement and into safety of tenth place, avoiding the SPFL Premiership play-off which will be decided by Kilmarnock and Dundee this evening.

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