Ron Lancaster is no longer head coach of the Hamilton Tiger-Cats.

According to the Hamilton Spectator, Lancaster was fired Thursday.

"I remain very effusive in my praise of Ron," Tiger-Cats owner Bob Young told the newspaper.

"(But) Ron won't be back as head coach next year."

That said, Young has left it up to Lancaster to decide whether or not he wishes to remain with the organization in a different capacity.

"I think he's hugely valuable," Young said. "I've asked Ron to go home and think through his career.

"(But) if he wants to be a head coach, he's now free to market his services."

Lancaster and the Tiger-Cats suffered through their worst season ever, going 1-17 and finishing last overall in points scored (293) and points allowed (583).

Ironically, the previous franchise record for futility (2-16) was set in 1997 and prompted the hiring of Lancaster as head coach and director of football operations that November 26.

Lancaster immediately turned things around, guiding the Ticats to a 12-5-1 record the Ticats' winningest regular-season ever and the second-best turnaround in league history and their first Grey Cup appearance in nine years.

Hamilton lost 26-24 to the Calgary Stampeders on a last-second field goal from Mark McLoughlin, but avenged the loss in 1999.

After finishing 12-7, the Ticats returned to the Grey Cup and thumped the Stampeders, 32-21 for their first title since 1986.

However, such fond memories became distant ones as, this season, the franchise went bankrupt, was seized by the CFL and wound up operating under receivership.

Young, a Hamilton-born computer mogul, bought the Ticats two months ago and vowed to restructure the front office and retool the team's image.

Although Young's desire to attract younger fans puts Lancaster on the outs, he's still willing to employ the 65-year-old Hall of Famer.

The question is, of course, doing what?

"The way I was thinking about it is, Ron's won a Grey Cup as a player and he's won a Grey Cup as a coach," Young said. "Maybe he'd like to take a stab at winning a Grey Cup in some other capacity."

Lancaster posted a 51-56-1-3 record in five seasons at the helm in Hamilton.

And at 137-110-1-3 overall, he is the fourth-winningest head coach in CFL history behind Don Matthews, Wally Buono and Frank Clair.

with files from CP Online