BOSTON — The Terry Francona era is over in Boston, as the Red Sox will not pick up the option on his contract.

In a joint statement released today after Red Sox brass met with the manager, owners John Henry, Tom Werner, and Larry Lucchino acknowledged a change was needed, and thanked Francona, who led the franchise to two world titles.

“Tito said that after eight years here he was frustrated by his difficulty making an impact with the players, that a different voice was needed, and that it was time for him to move on,” the statement said. “After taking time to reflect on Tito’s sentiments, we agreed that it was best for the Red Sox not to exercise the option years on his contract.”

The statements ended a whirlwind day at Fenway Park that saw all of the principle parties shuttle in and out of the facility several times. Francona was in the building three different times.

Boston missed the playoffs despite leading the AL wild-card race by nine games on Sept. 4. It went 6-18 after that, ending with a 4-3 loss Wednesday in Baltimore.

2:32 p.m.

BOSTON  — Terry Francona met with Boston Red Sox management today to discuss his future as manager.

Shortly after the meeting, Francona, owner John Henry, and chairman Tom Werner left in separate cars. Francona left first, at 11:55 a.m. No announcement was made.

At 1:25 p.m., general manager Theo Epstein released a statement.

“John Henry, Tom Werner, Larry Lucchino, Ben Cherington and I met with Terry Francona this morning at Fenway Park to exchange thoughts and information on the 2011 season and discuss areas for improvement going forward,” he said. “We all plan on taking some time to process the thoughts expressed in the meeting. There are no immediate plans for an announcement.”

At 1:29 p.m., surprisingly, Francona pulled back into Fenway in his Cadillac Escalade, before departing again at 2:09 p.m.

As he drove away, a fan on the street clapped and then gave him the thumbs-up sign.

Several media reports today said Francona would not return for a ninth season. He led the Red Sox to World Series titles in 2004, their first since 1918, and 2007. According to SI.com, Boston has declined to pick up the option on Francona’s contract. It said the decision was made last night.

The team has 10 days from the end of its season to decide whether to retain the manager, whose contract has two option years at the club’s discretion. Boston missed the playoffs despite leading the AL wild-card race by nine games on Sept. 4. It went 6-18 after that, ending with a 4-3 loss Wednesday night to the Baltimore Orioles.

At a news conference Thursday, Francona said he and general manager Theo Epstein had approached the topic of the option, but declined to comment on his future.

“It’s still pretty fresh,” Francona said, “and pretty raw.”