Johnny Taylor is to leave Ballymena United after turning down the club’s offer of a new contract.
The 27-year-old defender will bring to an end his four-and-a-half-year stint at the Showgrounds after failing to agree fresh terms with manager David Jeffrey.
Taylor was former manager Glenn Ferguson’s first signing as Ballymena boss on a loan deal from Glentoran which was initially turned into a permanent arrangement.
He quickly established himself as a key player, with a reputation as a tough, uncompromising defender.
David Jeffrey explained: “During contract discussions with Johnny, he had advised that he was considering his future as far back as Christmas time before myself and Bryan came on board.
“We made it clear to him that we wanted him to stay and made him an offer last Thursday - understandably he wanted to mull it over and has decided that he probably needs a fresh start in football.
“We fully respect his decision and want to thank him for his contribution to the football club during his years here.
“In our short time here, myself and Bryan have enjoyed working with him, he has shown great commitment and effort and has been most professional.
“Johnny has enjoyed his time at Ballymena and expressed his best wishes for us going forward.
“It would have been great to have him on board next season but we understand his decision and genuinely wish him all the best for his future career,” added Jeffrey.
Taylor made 140 appearances for Ballymena, scoring 13 goals.
Ironically, Taylor missed both of Ballymena’s County Antrim Shield triumphs in his time at the club, the first, in 2012, through a long-term knee injury, while he also missed out on the final success against Linfield in the season just past through suspension, having been sent off against the same opponents three days before the final.
The departure of Taylor will be offset by the arrival of three central defenders - Kyle Owens, Johnny Flynn and Denver Gage - while another centre-back, Kyle McVey, has agreed new terms for next season.