Ian Black: Craig Levein is the 'root of all problems' at Hearts
Former Hearts midfielder Ian Black believes Craig Levein is at the root of the club's current problems after relegation was confirmed.
The 35-year-old backed supporters to rally and help Hearts survive the drop but also savaged those running Scottish football, said they are only concerned with "lining their own pockets".
Black watched Hearts toil all season and feels former manager Levein is largely responsible. He was sacked in October and replaced by Daniel Stendel after the Edinburgh club fell to the bottom of the Premiership.
The Scottish Professional Football League yesterday officially ended the top-flight campaign and consigned Hearts to relegation.
Although admitting owner Ann Budge must shoulder a portion of the blame, Black said the majority of it must lie with Levein.
"I think it's ridiculous," he stated. "Ann has come in and saved the club, to then have to take some blame for a bit of the mess having kept Levein in the job for the amount of time she did.
"On a personal note, I think he's the root of all problems for the state Hearts are in."
Levein capped Black for Scotland whilst managing the national team but endured an unfulfilling second spell as manager at Tynecastle Park.
He has been working in a background role since being relieved of his duties as manager and director of football. He is due to leave officially on May 31 when his contract expires.
"The club will always survive because the fans will support them through thick and thin," said Black. "They dug them out of a hole once and they will dig them out again. They will bounce back from relegation.
"It's soul-destroying to watch – having achieved what they did to see how they are now."
Black won the Scottish Cup with Hearts eight years ago today in the famous 5-1 victory over city rivals Hibs. They were relegated two years later after lapsing into administration but recovered with aplomb to qualify for Europe in 2016.
This recent fall from grace comes after the SPFL and clubs agreed the 2019/20 season could not be completed due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Hearts had eight games remaining and were four points adrift at the bottom of the Premiership. Black even suspects the decision to end the campaign at this moment might have been timed to dampen the 5-1 anniversary.
"The people who run Scottish football are a bit of a shambles anyway," he said. "They've probably looked at this decision knowing it's today that Hearts are going to celebrate the greatest result in their history.
"To demote them and end the league on the day that they have, I wouldn't put it past them organising that. I've always had an issue with the way Scottish football is run."
He feels the Scottish Football Association don’t offer enough help to the SPFL, clubs or grassroots development.
"The people who were on the board when I was there were more interested in lining their own pockets than looking after the youth," he added.
"I've played in England and I still get contact from organisations down there. They send you links about wellbeing and offer you opportunities. I've played most of my career in Scotland now and I haven't heard from the Scottish FA once."