Monday, 5 November 2012

SFA Relieve Levein of Duties

Scotland manager Craig Levein has been "relieved of his duties", the Scottish Football Association has confirmed.

Levein, who took over in December 2009, has paid the price for Scotland's disastrous start to their World Cup qualifying campaign and his conservative tactics which have alienated the Tartan Army.

Scotland drew their opening Hampden qualifiers against Serbia and Macedonia, and a double defeat by Wales and Belgium means qualification for Brazil 2014 is all but over.

More dammingly, the former Scotland defender only won three of his 12 competitive matches in charge.

It is believed the SFA's decision to sack Levein, whose contract runs until summer 2014, will cost up to £700,000.

A statement read: "The Scottish FA tonight announces that Craig Levein has been relieved of his duties as Scotland national coach.

"The board of the Scottish FA has taken the decision primarily due to the disappointing results in the FIFA World Cup Brazil 2014 Qualifiers, which have culminated in Scotland being bottom of the group after four matches."

Scotland next face Luxembourg in an away friendly on Nov 14 and Scotland Under-21 coach Billy Stark will take temporary charge of the team.

Former Scotland midfielder Gordon Strachan is the leading contender to replace Levein and will be relatively easy to hire as he is currently out of work.

Other names in the frame include Alex McLeish, Walter Smith, Joe Jordan and SFA performance director Mark Wotte.

The seven-man Scottish Football Association board have come in for widespread criticism for deliberating this weekend over whether to sack Levein.

Levein revealed last Wednesday he had pleaded his case for more time with SFA chief executive Stewart Regan and president Campbell Ogilvie.

Regan and Ogilvie subsequently discussed his position with their colleagues on the SFA board but the members wanted the weekend to deliberate and digest more information on the implications of sacking Levein.

While appearing as a pundit on BBC Scotland's coverage of the Cup tie between his former clubs Dundee United and Hearts on Wednesday night, Levein said: "I had a chat with Stewart Regan and Campbell Ogilvie and I'll find out one way or the other early next week.

"The squad for the Luxembourg game will be named on Tuesday and there will be an announcement before then.

"I'm hugely proud to be Scotland manager and want to continue doing the job."

The SFA disagreed with Levein's pleas, however.

In a statement, Regan said: "We are taking this decision with real sadness.

"Craig has worked hard to bring success, and has been thoroughly professional in his approach to the job.

"He has achieved a great deal with the team and in other areas, such as the performance strategy. However, he would be the first to agree that football is a results-driven business.

"For that reason we have relieved Craig of his duties with immediate effect.

"Billy Stark will take interim charge of the team for the friendly against Luxembourg. There will be a short delay in announcing that squad, which Billy will select, and we have informed the Luxembourg FA of this development.

"After the Luxembourg match, the board will meet to begin the process of identifying and recruiting the next national coach to take us forward. We will give ourselves time, given our fixture schedule, to find the right person for the job.

"The challenge for the squad now is to improve our position in Group A and, subsequently, improve our position in the Fifa rankings.

"We also must begin preparations for the Uefa European Championship in France in 2016, which for the first time will have 24 qualification places available."

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