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The Hamilton Tiger-Cats fired head coach Greg Marshall on Monday. ((Marianne Helm/Canadian Press))

The Hamilton Tiger-Cats fired head coach Greg Marshall on Monday.

Ron Lancaster,the team's senior director of football operations, will take over as coach on an interim basis.

Marshall was named Hamilton coach in 2004 andnamed Canadian Football League coach of the yearafter guiding the Ticats to a 9-8-1 record in his rookie season.

The club missed the playoffs after stumbling to a 5-13-0 record last season and began the current campaign with four straight losses. At 0-4, Hamilton is the only winless team in the CFL.

"This was a very, very tough decision," owner Bob Young said in a statement. "His [Marshall's] contributions to the organization, the Hamilton community and to our fans can not be understated.

"I have great admiration and respect for Greg, but after careful consideration it was in the best interest of the organization to make a change. Ron and assistant head coach Joe Paopao will have a full set of resources to improve our success on the field."

Marshall agreed to a one-year contract extension on Dec. 14, 2005, the same day Joe Paopao was introduced as the team's new offensive co-ordinator and assistant head coach.

Marshall became the first Canadian university coach to go straight to a head-coaching job in the CFL when he left Hamilton's McMaster University, where he turned a floundering Marauders program into a powerhouse.

Prior to joining the Ticats, Marshall spent 20 years coaching at the University of Western Ontario and McMaster.

Lancaster, who coached the Ticats from 1998 to 2003, shifted to the front office when Marshall was hired.

Twice named CFL coach of the year, Lancaster has won two Grey Cups (1993 with Edmonton, '99 with Hamilton).

He is fourth in CFL history with 138 coaching victoriesand finished with a record of .500 or better five times in six years.

"I hope my years of experience can help deliver the leadership necessary to help benefit the club in its current situation," said Lancaster. "I will assume the position of head coach for the remainder of the season or step down as soon as the right person is found."

Tiger-Cats general manager Rob Katz said the search for Marshall's successor will begin immediately.

"No one in our organization is happy with how the season has started and we all accept responsibility for our performance," he said. "We're fortunate to have a guy that's as qualified and respected as Ron Lancaster.

It's possible the Ticats would hire someone within the organization, namely Paopao, who brought 17 years of coaching experience to Hamilton, including the last four as head coach in Ottawa.

He also has coached the British Columbia Lions, Edmonton Eskimos and Winnipeg Blue Bombers.