By Duncan Mackay

Tony HandsJune 20 - Britain's ice hockey coach Tony Hand has stepped down from his post with immediate effect, it has been announced today. 

Ice Hockey UK (IHUK) revealed that the 45-year-old, who has been in charge since 2011 after signing a four-year contract, informed them of his decision at a meeting in Newcastle this morning.

The 45-year-old from Edinburgh had guided the team to the final Olympic qualifiers in Latvia in February but they went in as outsiders and were beaten in all three of their games against Kazakhstan, the hosts and France.

There was more disappointment to follow in April when Great Britain were relegated to Division I Group B of the World Championships after losing all five of their matches at the Division I Pool A tournament in Budapest.

Hand will now focus on his role as head coach of the Manchester Phoenix, who he guided to the English Premier League play-off title last season.

A statement on the IHUK website read: "At this time, Ice Hockey UK do not have a new coach in mind, but over the coming weeks they will start the search for the next head coach of the senior men's national team.

"The Board of Ice Hockey UK would like to thank Tony Hand for his service to the National Programme and for leading Team GB through one of its most exciting periods in their history."

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