- Associated Press - Sunday, March 5, 2017

LEVERKUSEN, Germany (AP) - BayerLeverkusen fired Roger Schmidt as coach on Sunday with the side enduring its worst Bundesliga season for 14 years.

Leverkusen’s shareholders’ committee and supervisory board decided to let Schmidt go on the recommendation of club management. The club said a successor will be named “soon.”

Schmidt’s position had been called into question on several occasions this season but Saturday’s 6-2 loss at Borussia Dortmund ended the club’s patience. It was Leverkusen’s third straight defeat in all competitions, including the 4-2 defeat at home to Atletico Madrid in the Champions League.

Leverkusen lost five of its last seven games in all competitions.

“In view of the current sporting development we came to the conclusion after very detailed analysis and consultation that a separation, although painful, is unavoidable for the further development and aims of Bayer 04,” managing director Michael Schade said.

Schmidt, who turns 50 on March 13, joined Leverkusen in 2014 and had a contract through June 2019.

“I personally regret this a lot because we have Roger Schmidt to thank for a great deal,” Schade said. “In his time we qualified three times for the group stages of the Champions League. Apart from that he enforced our philiosophy in the youth setup, developing young players and shaping them into national players, and thus creating lasting value.”

But this season Leverkusen is out of the German Cup, on the verge of exiting the Champions League, and is 10th in the Bundesliga after 23 rounds - 11 points behind Hoffenheim in the last potential qualification place for the Champions League.

“I believe Roger Schmidt is an absolute top coach and that’s why I have always backed him with full confidence,” Leverkusen sporting director Rudi Voeller said. “But now we have to act so we don’t lose sight of our goals.”

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