THE man behind the building of Scotland's biggest music venue has quit only weeks after it opened.

John Sharkey, chief executive of the SECC and Hydro Arena in Glasgow, is understood to have resigned after a boardroom battle with the city council.

It is understood a dispute over pay and bonuses and the future direction of the riverside arena were central to the decision.

Mr Sharkey, 47, will step down by Easter, bringing forward an departure anticipated after the 2014 Commonwealth Games.

His exit comes after prolonged negotiations with Glasgow City Council, majority shareholder in the SECC, the Hydro's owner, and on the back of long-standing friction between the authority and SECC.

Mr Sharkey, a father-of-three, was told several weeks before the Hydro's September opening that he would have to take a pay cut. Recent figures reveal he was paid a basic salary of £190,000 on top of £85,000 in bonuses.

The city council has repeatedly raised concerns over public perceptions of the size of salaries at the publicly-owned body, while SECC directors and the management team have argued they operate as a private sector body and should have their salaries compared with those at similar venues south of the border.

The often fraught delivery of the Hydro, which at one stage was at risk of opening late, has been an area of contention but since it opened the venue has been hailed a major success.

Senior figures in Glasgow's Labour administration have been kept informed of the situation regarding Mr Sharkey, whose friendship with former council leader Steven Purcell has been another source of friction with many in the authority.

His refusal to accept a pay cut is understood to come on top of other wrangles with the council, with the authority expected to increase its say on the running of both the SECC and the Hydro.

It is also understood another senior executive quit the SECC this week for a post elsewhere, while Sir Ian Grant, the organisation's chairman, told staff yesterday he too was standing down.

Former Aberdeen FC chief executive Keith Wyness stood down from the SECC board earlier this month.

One source said: "Sharkey felt he couldn't do his job anymore. There's been a huge amount of stuff going on in the background but John can walk away with his self-respect intact.

"He's got good reputation and it won't be long before he walks into a big post."

Mr Sharkey joined the SECC as finance director in 2002 and was appointed chief executive in 2008.

The SECC said: "John believes this is the natural time to take on his next career challenge and allow a new successor to consolidate the potential of the new, expanded SECC campus and enlarged business. He will announce his future plans at a later date."

City council chief executive George Black said: "Having driven this complex and successful project to completion, I wish John well in his future endeavours."

Mr Sharkey said: "It is undoubtedly a massive privilege to have had the opportunity to see the SSE Hydro from its gestation through construction to its successful opening and now it's time for me to take on another challenge."