Kenny Shiels is "heartbroken" by Kilmarnock's decision to end his time as manager at Rugby Park.
A statement from the Ayrshire club explains that the departure is for "football and regulatory" reasons.
Kilmarnock cited his repeated touchline bans for Scottish FA breaches and a poor results but Shiels said: "It's hard to take. I'm heartbroken.
"I really do love Kilmarnock to the extent I treated it as my own," he told BBC Scotland.
The 57-year-old leaves following a series of run-ins with the SFA's disciplinary panel and a ninth-place finish in the Scottish Premier League.
Last term, Kilmarnock endured their worst home record in more than 30 years.
And the latest in a long line of suspensions also contributed to the downfall of Shiels, who won the League Cup in 2012.
However, the departing manager insists he was trying to protect the club in media interviews and believes he leaves the club in good shape.
"I've been building a foundation for the club," added the Northern Irishman.
"This is the way I do it, I build for a long-term plan.
"You'll see it bearing fruit, perhaps not the season coming in, but 14-15 and 15-16 will be big seasons for Kilmarnock.
"The only guilt I feel is that I tried to over protect the club too much.
"I was always very quick to protect them, and, if I felt there was an injustice against them, then I'm going to fight there corner - because that's the way I am.
"I feel guilty that maybe I fought their corner too much when I should have thought more about just letting things go.
"But it's difficult to do that when you're in a passionate frame of mind."
Kilmarnock were also found guilty of failing to ensure that Shiels complies with SFA protocol.
"Kenny's work ethic and his determination to introduce young players into the first team were evident throughout his time with the club," added the club statement on his departure.
"Unfortunately season 2012-13 saw the club exit the League Cup at the first hurdle and go on to record our poorest home record since season 1980-81, culminating in seven matches without a victory at Rugby Park to exit the Scottish Cup and miss out on the top six and then drop to ninth place with five defeats in our final six SPL fixtures.
"A difficult relationship with the Scottish FA resulted in several touchline bans and recent comments regarding a fellow SPL club and the Scottish FA judicial panel incurred a further suspension which would have seen Kenny commence next season in the stand, rather than the dug-out.
"As a result, the club was also prosecuted by the judicial panel's compliance officer at a hearing on 6 June and will discover the penalty to be imposed on 21 June."
Shiels left his post as head of youth at Tranmere Rovers to become assistant to Mixu Paatelainen in June 2010.
When Paatelainen moved on nine months later, Shiels was promoted to the manager's post on an interim basis before being given the post in the summer of 2011, bringing in Jimmy Nicholl as his assistant.
In Shiels' first full season in charge, Kilmarnock finished seventh and won the Scottish Communities League Cup, beating Celtic in the final.
Kilmarnock have yet to comment on the future of Nicholl but Shiels thinks his compatriot should be given a chance to lead the team.
He said: "I would recommend Jimmy to manage the club and Garry Hay to be his assistant."