Hearts owner Ann Budge has confirmed that Craig Levein will be the new first-team coach, saying that it was “essential to call on his experience”.
In a statement on the club’s website, she explained how the new coaching structure would work at the club and even joked that Levein will finally get to pick the team following years of speculation over his input in first-team matters.
Levein takes over from Ian Cathro, nearly four weeks after the 31-year-old was sacked after a tumultuous period in charge of the club.
Budge wrote: “I am very pleased to be able to announce that, at the request of the board, Craig Levein has agreed to take on the role of First Team Manager at the club. He will continue to hold a seat on the board and, as such, will retain the overall responsibilities associated with the wider role of Director of Football. However, his focus and priorities will change. To enable Craig to focus fully on the Football Manager remit, some minor changes to roles, responsibilities and reporting lines will be implemented within the current coaching team setup and within the youth academy structure.
“The youth academy has developed significantly over the last 3 years, under Craig’s leadership, but is now entering a period of stability. Various development programmes have seen the club invest substantial sums, in terms of new staff, new processes, new facilities and new systems. We are now reaping the benefits of that investment. Our Head of Academy, Roger Arnott, has full responsibility for running this operation on a day-to-day basis and he will continue to do so.
“On the coaching front, Craig will be implementing some changes to the roles/responsibilities of some of our coaching staff, such that each member of the team will be given the opportunity to continue with his personal development. He will be assisted on the training ground by 4 first team coaches, namely Jon Daly, Liam Fox, Austin MacPhee and Paul Gallacher. Each coach will have clearly defined areas of responsibility, both on and off the training ground. Jon’s first team responsibilities mean that Andy Kirk will now take charge of the U20s on a permanent basis.
“In deciding how best to move forward, the board took into account the fact that we are facing a unique set of circumstances this year, with the first match on our home ground not coming until three months into the season. Given this situation, we believed it was essential to call on experience.
“Against this backdrop, we drew up our selection criteria and invited a number of experienced managers/head coaches for interview. The candidates we interviewed were, without exception, first-class. However, as the interview process progressed, it became clear to the board that the ideal candidate was already with us. Not only does Craig satisfy all of our requirements, in terms of experience and personal attributes, he also offers continuity and stability. During a time of great change at the club, it is of paramount importance that we consolidate progress already made and learn from our experiences.
“Having presented our plan to all members of the coaching staff and to our captain, I can confirm that everyone is fully behind it. We are, therefore, delighted that Craig has agreed to take on this challenge and for the avoidance of doubt ... yes ... he will be taking his place in the dugout ... and yes, for the first time in the last 3 years ... he will indeed be picking the team!”