Clubs left stunned by Marks' shock exit from top post
Domestic football's new head honcho Colin Marks has sensationally walked away from his job as Managing Director of the new Northern Ireland Football League.
Lt Col Marks, who spent 24 years serving in the military, was due to formally run the new company set up to oversee both the Irish Premiership and Championship.
However Marks, who was appointed last Autumn, quit the post on Monday night citing personal reasons for his unexpected departure.
The Irish FA's Head of Communications Geoff Wilson said: It is with regret that the Board of the Northern Ireland Football League have accepted the resignation of its Managing Director, Colin Marks.
"Colin is leaving the post due to personal reasons.
"The Board would like to thank Colin for his work in setting up the NIFL and wish him every success in the future."
The shock news will come as a huge blow to the league clubs who were said to be impressed by Ballymena-born Marks.
Although the Afghanistan veteran wasn't due to officially commence his position until the summer, he had already been working with the clubs and other leading figures within football.
Despite this initial positive work personal problems have forced Marks to step aside.
Premiership and Championship clubs will now need to find a new managing director before the three divisions breakaway from the Irish FA ahead of next season.
When the IFA Premiership and IFA Championship were formed in 2008 then IFA chief executive Howard Wells explained that the intention was for league football to breakaway from the governing body and form their own autonomous company.
And although the IFA will help the clubs through the transition period the eventual aim is for the league football to be fully independent of the governing body.
The 42 Northern Ireland Football League sides hope that the their new independence will help improve the domestic game, allowing the clubs to govern their own affairs, through a company solely focused on improving the domestic product.
However this set-back is a bitter blow for the new company who now must return to the drawing board and appoint a new Managing Director before power is handed over in the summer.