Premier League club Balzan have named Italian Riccardo Tumiatti as caretaker coach after Ivan Zammit was relieved of his duties, sources have told The Times.

The committee of Balzan made the decision to part company with Zammit and his assistant Joe Borg during an urgent meeting that followed the team’s dismal performance in the 3-0 league defeat to Rabat Ajax on Monday.

Tumiatti, a former Milan youth coach who in January was appointed technical director of the Balzan nursery, has been put in charge until the end of the season. He will be assisted by former Balzan midfielder Silvan Ciscaldi, the head coach of the club’s nursery.

Zammit, a former Malta international who played for top clubs like Valletta and Birkirkara in his career, had been in charge of Balzan for several years after initially joining the club as player-coach.

Under Zammit’s guidance, Balzan were promoted to the Premier League at the end of season 2010-11. Last year, Balzan defied expectations by claiming a Championship Pool berth but they failed to emulate that feat this term despite signing a host of experienced players.

Eight points clear of the relegation zone with only five matches remaining, Balzan are well-placed to secure their top-flight status but their performances in the last few games have caused concern among the club officials.

Anton Tagliaferro, Balzan’s honorary president and main financial backer who is based in Australia, was present for Monday’s match against Rabat at the Tedesco Stadium.

After beating ─Žamrun Spartans in their opening Relegation Pool match, Balzan, who are sorely missing Brazilian players Pedrinho and Elton who left the club in February to continue their career in their home country, drew their next three games before their disappointing defeat to Rabat which has cost Zammit his job.

Tumiatti’s first task is to lift the player’s morale and prepare the team for Monday’s match against ─Žamrun Spartans.