After some three weeks of speculation, Fareham Town have finally announced that Duncan Pratt is no longer their manager.

The news comes as no great surprise. Pratt has been mysteriously absent from the Jewson Wessex League club since Easter, leaving team affairs in the hands of former Saints and Pompey defender Jon Gittens.

A joint statement issued by Pratt and club chairman Bob Ralls gives no real clue about the reason for the mutually agreed decision, saying only: "It was taken in the best interests of Mr Duncan Pratt and Fareham Town FC."

It adds that Pratt will perform the role of a supporter and adviser to the club "as and when invited by the board of directors."

Having begun the season as director of football at Cams Alders, Pratt (pictured) stepped in as caretaker manager in early December when ex-England international Mark Chamberlain stood down.

Under Pratt's guidance, Fareham's, talented young side - currently seventh in the table - have made astounding progress and are on well course for their best ever JWL finish.

But cracks appeared last month when Nick Ralls, one of the club's principal shareholders, agreed to loan top scorer Peter Wood to Havant & Waterlooville without consulting Pratt. And, according to rumour, it was boardroom interference in team selection that finally drove Pratt away.

Chairman Ralls would not clarify whether Pratt remains a director of the club but said: "We were most grateful for Duncan's contribution to the development of the team."

Fareham have installed Gittens as caretaker boss for the remainder of the season and will advertise the post shortly.