Severs ties with club in summer

Budge loses patience and sacks Levein after poor run

Out: Levein (pic: SNS Group)

Hearts owner Ann Budge has started the search for a new manager after sacking under-pressure Craig Levein.

Levein has left his dug out post immediately, won’t return to his role as director of football but will remain in the background until the end of his contract in the summer. It remains to be seen how much influence he will have in deciding his replacement.

The former Scotland boss has paid the price for a poor start to the season which sees the Jambos languishing at the foot of the Premiership alongside St Mirren after just one win in 11 games.

Despite the disappointing run of results, Levein was adamant he was the right person to turn things around.

However, last night’s defeat to St Johnstone in Perth was the final straw for Budge, who has acted with disillusioned fans on the verge of revolt despite a League Cup semi-final against Rangers to look forward to on Sunday.

A statement from the club said: “The board of directors of Heart of Midlothian Football Club has today taken the decision to relieve Craig Levein of his first team managerial duties.

“The board would like to thank Craig for all of his efforts as first team manager. Craig has worked tirelessly and selflessly, around the clock, to try to achieve success, despite the many challenges with which he has been faced.

“Craig will not return to his previous Director of Football role and, that being so, will step down from the board. He will, however, see out his contract, which runs until the end of the season, working closely with the executive management team in continuing to develop and improve the structure of the backroom and youth operations within the development.

“We are confident that his knowledge and experience will contribute massively to ensuring that, come the end of the season, he will leave the football department in a healthy and thriving state.

“Effective immediately, Austin MacPhee will be in charge of first team affairs, on an interim basis, while the board begins the process of recruiting a new manager. The new manager, and indeed the interim manager, will report directly to the chief executive.”

Tynecastle legend and current Inverness Caledonian Thistle boss John Robertson will be among the favourites to return to the club as manager for a second spell.

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