Former Charlton boss Reed has been dumped from his role in charge of football operations at St Mary’s with the club just a point clear of the relegation zone in the Premier League.
The 65-year-old has overseen the appointment of four managers in four years since Mauricio Pochettino quit to join Tottenham in 2014.
And with a series of expensive flops in the transfer market also down to his recruitment choices, Saints have decided to act.
A club statement 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.”
Reed brought in Ronald Koeman, Claude Puel and Maurcio Pellegrino as bosses with little success after Pochettino left
It was his decision to appoint Mark Hughes as boss last season when the club only just avoided relegation to the Championship.
Now Reed’s departure has increased the pressure on Hughes to start delivering results or his own position will be in doubt.
Last week’s 6-1 drubbing at Manchester City proved the final nail in the coffin for Reed – and Hughes is now treading on thin ice.
Chairman Ralph Krueger added: “I would like to go on record to thank Les for the eight years of hard work and dedication he has given Southampton Football Club.
“His time at the club will be remembered for the fine work he did in overseeing our progress through the divisions and establishing the club in the Premier League.
“The process of recruiting the right individual to head up our football operations is under way, and is a decision that needs to be given the necessary time and attention that reflects what an important position it is within our club.
“Now, more than ever, we are grateful for the continued support of our staff and fans as we work towards our joint aim of moving up the table.”