Dean Pay has coached his last game for the Bulldogs, with he and Canterbury announcing a mutual parting of the ways effective immediately.
In a further blow, assistant coach Steve Antonelli has followed Pay out the door on Tuesday.
Interim replacement Steve Georgallis will take charge of the club with reserve grade mentor Brad Henderson by his side, starting with Saturday's clash against the Dragons in Wollongong.
Former Manly coach and current Penrith assistant Trent Barrett is a clear front-runner to take over the club in the long-term.
Barrett is understood to be interested in a move to Belmore, but will weigh up whether it is in his best interests as the Bulldogs begin canvassing for replacements.
Canterbury are keen to lock in their next coach as soon as possible to bring desperately needed stability to the club.
It's understood the Bulldogs would be willing to appoint a long-term successor while the 2020 season is still ongoing.
Panthers officials have indicated they won't stand in their assistant coach's way should Barrett pursue a head coach role elsewhere.
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However, Barrett is believed to be wary of upsetting Penrith's likely run to the finals and would appear unlikely to make any move until the off-season.
Pay, meanwhile, is understood to have discussed his future with Bulldogs powerbrokers in the wake of Saturday's demoralising loss to Brisbane, after which he said publicly it would "be good for everybody" if Canterbury's football club board made a definitive call on his future.
Bulldogs CEO Andrew Hill confirmed Pay's exit on Tuesday after "both parties agreed that it was in the best interests of the individual and the club to part ways."
"These decisions are always tough, particularly when they involve someone who has been part of the Bulldogs family for a long time," Hill said.
"The fact is though that the club and Dean have decided that we need to move in a different direction to take the team forward and Dean was in agreement that now was the right time for both parties to part ways.
"We did not rush this decision and have taken our time to look at what was best for the club in regard to success moving forward.
"I'd like to thank Dean for his contribution over the past three years and all the hard work and passion he has given the club."
The 51-year-old told his players on Tuesday morning of his immediate exit before departing Belmore, offering a brief statement to Bulldogs members.
"I'd like to thank the Bulldogs for the opportunity to be the head coach at a club that has always meant so much to me," Pay said.
Players were put through their paces after Pay's address on a sodden Belmore Stadium track with Georgallis taking charge of the training session.
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The Bulldogs currently sit last on the ladder with a 1-8 record, with Pay's winning record since taking charge of the battling club in 2018 from Des Hasler sitting at 32 per cent.
His future at Belmore has been the subject of fierce focus for much of the past three seasons.
The lack of certainty over who will be in charge in 2021 has been a significant impasse in the club's pursuit of marquee signings.
Pay's time at Belmore comes to a close just as the club is recovering from the salary cap mess left from Hasler's tenure, which led to high-profile players David Klemmer, the Morris brothers Josh and Brett, Moses Mbye, Aaron Woods and Josh Reynolds all moving on during Pay's first year in charge.