Southampton vice-chairman Les Reed has left with the club saying it needs to “take constructive action” to “get results back on track”.
Saints, who narrowly avoided relegation last season, are currently 16th, after just one win this campaign.
He oversaw a period in which the club won promotion to the Championship, then the Premier League and they reached the EFL Cup final in 2017.
Saints are without a league win in seven matches and manager Mark Hughes recognises the need for results to improve.
Read more The shake-up makes Mark Hughes more vulnerable. He signed a new three-year contract as manager at the end of last season, having arrived in March to steer the club to Premier League safety. He has taken charge of 19 league games, winning three. Goals have been the biggest problem for his team. They have scored only 15 in the league under him.
“Were all part of it,” he told BBC Radio Solent. “Were all trying to be successful for the club in each and every role that we do.
“That includes myself, my coaches and the players themselves. Were at a point where we need to understand results change everybodys perception.
“Lately, we havent got the results we feel weve deserved. But its not a statement were going to be able to keep on saying as clearly, were going to have to turn that round.”
Hunter moved to the club shortly after Reed – the pair are close confidants – and he held a variety of roles, the most recent of which effectively put him in overall charge of coaching from under-23 level and down.
Former Blackburn and Stoke boss Hughes hopes he will have a more direct say in transfers and recruitment following Reeds departure.
“My input was (previously) limited as I was coming in at the latter stages of what was already going on,” he said.
“I expect my involvement to increase going forwards and I think that will be a good thing. Ive got a lot of knowledge and understanding about what is needed to come in.”
Chairman Ralph Krueger said appointing Reeds successor would be given the “necessary time and attention that reflects what an important position it is within our club”.
“In the summer, I was offered a three-year contract. Clearly Les would have had an impact in that decision but not totally,” said Hughes at his pre-match press conference ahead of Saturday’s clash with Watford.
In a statement, Saints said: “The club believes the time is right to take constructive action and make a change that will provide new drive and direction to our football operations team and enable them to get results back on track.”
Saints finished in the top-eight in the league for four successive seasons under Mauricio Pochettino, Ronald Koeman and Claude Puel. They finished 17th last year, with Mark Hughes brought in to avoid relegation after Mauricio Pellegrino was sacked.
Virgil van Dijk, Victor Wanyama, Sadio Mane, Adam Lallana, Dejan Lovren, Nathaniel Clyne, Luke Shaw and Morgan Schneiderlin are just some of the players to have left the club for big fees in recent years.
Les Reeds departure as Southampton vice-chairman is a development of significance because he has been central to clubs football strategy – and now turns more attention on manager Hughes.
“We will envisage to get a positive run of results because clearly that’s one of the reasons why decisions have been made because results of late haven’t been where they need to be.”
Reed arrived when Saints were in the third tier of English football and worked alongside managers such as Pochettino and Koeman when Southampton established themselves in the upper reaches of the Premier League.
After narrowly avoiding Premier League relegation last term, the south coast club are doing little better this season and sit 16th in the table having mustered just seven points from 11 matches.
Southampton also defied logic by flourishing despite constant managerial changes and the regular sale of their prized assets – particularly the likes of Van Dijk, Mane and Lallana to Liverpool.
Reed, however, had also been working in tandem with Pellegrino during his failed regime that saw a struggle against relegation last season and while the late appointment of Hughes saw Saints stay up, they now sit only one point above the relegation places after the 6-1 thrashing at Manchester City last Sunday.
Southamptons statement said it was time to take “constructive action” and also confirmed a review into the clubs football operation has begun.
It remains to be seen what ramifications Reeds departure has for Hughes but it has certainly increased the urgency for him to get results.
Reed, who has been in charge of football related matters at St Mary’s since 2010, has gone with immediate effect with Saints languishing in the table having won just one top flight game this season.
The 65-year-old will be replaced in due course, but the club insist they are in no hurry to make a new appointment.
A club statement said: “Southampton Football Club can today confirm it has agreed to part company with its Vice Chairman (Football), Les Reed.