Hearts' Ann Budge explains Craig Levein sacking, plans for new boss and 'tinge of regret'

Tynecastle owner explains why she sacked manager and her plan for way forward

Monday, 4th November 2019, 12:14 pm
Updated Monday, 4th November 2019, 12:39 pm

Hearts chief Ann Budge says she was left with no option but to sack manager Craig Levein last week, with the club joint-bottom of the Ladbrokes Premiership after playing each team once.

Budge took the decision to relieve Levein of his duties last Thursday in the wake of a meek 1-0 defeat by St Johnstone the night before.

The Jambos' chairwoman admitted she was "hopeful" Hearts could get through a period of bad results, a horrendous injury list and fan protest, but ultimately she had to act.

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Ann Budge says she will take her time in the search for a new manager. Pic: SNS
Ann Budge says she will take her time in the search for a new manager. Pic: SNS

"I was hopeful we would be able to get through this period," Budge said at a press conference on Monday. "It's not nice to relieve someone of their duties.

"That said, Craig was totally professional, mature. He would have liked longer to achieve what he wanted but he's been in football long enough to know action was needed.

"I wanted to give him a fair crack of the whip. The injuries didn't help but you can't keep talking about injuries. We had the size of squad to compete. Having completed a round of fixtures I had to make the decision I did."

Austin MacPhee took temporary charge of the team for Sunday's Betfred Cup semi-final defeat and Budge revealed that she will not rush appointing a new manager.

"I will take as long as it takes to appoint a first team manager," she said. "I am in no hurry, I have no one person in my sights.

"We discussed bringing in a consultant to find the new manager and we will be taking advice from a football expert. Craig Levein is not part of that process. I have had a number of offers to help us.

"We have to compete with the top clubs in Scotland and to do that we want a very experienced and high profile manager."

When asked about whether she regretted giving Levein the role as manager and director of football (the latter of which he still holds), Budge added: "Possibly yes. Clearly it didn't work so there must be a tinge of regret."

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