Neil Craig has stepped down as the head coach of Adelaide today, effective immediately.

Mark Bickley, a Premiership Captain for the Crows and currently in his third year as an assistant coach will take over from Craig in a caretaker position. It’s believed Craig’s future would have been decided for him had he waited until a board meeting on Thursday.

Craig was on record for previously stating he would resign and coach if he no longer believed he had something to offer the club and it’s playing group and conceeded today that his time was up as coach.

“It’s time. To continue would hurt the Club, given the negativity and distraction that my own role has become. We have clearly underperformed this year and as senior coach, I take the responsibility for that.” Craig said.

Prior to the 2011 season Craig became a staff member of the Crows and would coach without a set contract. It was hoped that this would put an end to any speculation to Craig’s future.

Craig became the head coach of Adelaide in 2004 as a caretaker after Gary Ayres quit mid-season after being told he would not coach the Crows after the 2004 season. Since then Craig has taken the Crows to 5 out of 7 finals series and has a coaching record of 92 wins and 74 losses since round 14, 2004.

Crows Chairman, Rob Chapman, praised Craig’s decision. “Neil has, as always, demonstrated enormous integrity in making this decision. He’s been true to his word that the Club would come before his own career, and has made the call as we expected he would.” Chapman said.

“I can’t speak highly enough of Neil. He’s made an extraordinary contribution to our Club since 1997; and more particularly since taking over as coach midway through 2004.”

Current List Manager David Noble will take over from Bickley as the new forward coach while Noble’s duties will be shared.

Craig has previously stated he will not look to coach anywhere else after leaving the Crows.